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University of California Berkeley 

University of California Bancroft Library /Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office 

Benjamin H. Lehman 


An Interview Conducted by 
Suzanne B. Riess 


All uses of this manuscript are covered by a legal 
agreement between the Regents of the University of 
California and Benjamin H. Lehman, dated January 1, 1968. 
The manuscript Is thereby made available for research 
purposes. All literary rights In the manuscript, 
Including the right to publish, are reserved to the 
Bancroft Library of the University of California at 
Berkeley. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for 
publication without the written permission of the Director 
of The Bancroft Library of the University of California 
at Berkeley. 

Requests for permission to quote for publication 
should be addressed to the Regional Oral History Office, 
^86 Library, and should include identification of the 
specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the 
passages, and Identification of the user. The legal 
agreement with Benjamin H. Lehman requires that he be 
notified of the request and allowed thirty days In which 
to respond. 

Benjamin H. Lehman 


Born Mullan, Idaho, Oct. 20, 1889 

A.B. Harvard, 1911; M.A. 1918; Ph. D. 1920 

Assistant Professor of English, Univ. of Idaho, 1911-191*4- 

Assistant Professor of English, Washington State College, 


Instructor In English, Harvard, 1917-1920 

Assistant Professor of English, Univ. of California, 


Associate Professor of English, Univ. of California, 

Professor of English, Univ. of California, 1928-1956 

Chairman, Dept. of Dramatic Art, Univ. of California, 

Chairman, Dept. of English, Univ. of California, 1944-1949 

Phi Beta Kappa 

Awarded Sohier Prize, 1911; Bowdoln Prize, 1920; both at 


Author: Wild Marriage. 1925; The Lordly Ones. 1927; 
Carlyle s Theory of the Hero. 1921T 

Committee Memberships, Univ. of California 
I. Administrative Committees 

Building needs (Berkeley): 1943/44-1944/45, 1946/47 


Drama., lectures and music: 1940/41 
Fellowships and graduate scholarships: 19*4-1/42 
Public research lectures: 1942/43, 1955/56 
II. Academic Senate Committees 

Advisory committee: 1945/46-1946/47, 19*46 A9-1940/50 


Budget and interdepartmental relations: 19*4-2 A3-19*4>5/*4-6 



Council of Graduate Division: 1926/27-1928/29, 

Educational policy i 1 9^*8 A9 -19^9/50 (chairman 19^8 A9) 
Honorary degrees : 1931 > 19^6A7-19^7A8 

Library: 1920/21-1921/22, 1927/28-1931/32 (chairman 
1930-1932); 19 33/3^-19 3V35 (chairman both 
years ) 

Advisory Library committees: 

Ancient and modern languages 
council: 1936/37, 19 38/39-19^2 A3 

Western authors: 1952/5 3-195 V55 
Prizes: 1921/22, 1923/2^-192 V25, 1926/2? 

Special committee of communication with the Regents: 

Special committee of procedure for electing the 
Committee on Committees: 19^6/47 

Special committee on reorganization of the Academic 
Senate i 1943A^-19^6A7 

III. Committees of the College of Letters and Science 
Council of the Humanities: 
Executive committee: 
Committee on Journalistic studies: 19 38/39-19^0 Al 



Under a grant from the University of California Alumni 
Foundation, the Regional Oral History Office has been conducting 
a series of interviews with persons who have made a significant 
contribution to the development of the University of California 
at Berkeley. A list of University History interviews follows, 
including an earlier group which had been conducted in cooperation 
with the Centennial History Project, directed by Professor Walton 
E. Bean. The Alumni Foundation grant made it possible to continue 
this University-centered series, of which this manuscript is a 

The Regional Oral History Office was established to tape 
record autobiographical interviews with persons prominent in 
recent California history. The Office is under the administrative 
supervision of the Director of the Bancroft Library. 

Willa Baum 

Head, Regional Oral 

History Office 

15 July 1968 

Regional Oral History Office 
Room 486 The Bancroft Library 
University of California 
Berkeley, California 


Interviews in the University History Series which have been 
completed by the Regional Oral History Office. These are listed 
in order of completion. 


Shields, Peter J. Reminiscences . 195^ 
Woods, Baldwin M. University of California Extension. 1957 

Stevens, Frank C. Forty Years in the Office of the President, 

University oT~CaTTf ornia, TZJO^T^T. F^ 

Birge, Raymond Thayer Raymond Thayer Dli-p.e, Physicist. I960 

Chaney, Ralph Works Ralph V. orks Chaney, Ph.JD., Paleobotanist, 

Conservat lonTst . l" 

Porter, Robert Langley 

Robert Langley Porter, Physician, Teacher, 
and GuaFdlan of "the Public Health. I960 

Treadway, Walter Correspondence and Papers on Langley 

Porter Clinic ~. (^ound into Langley Porter 
interview. ) 

Waring, Henry C. Henry . Waring on University Extension. I960 

Neuhaus, Eugen Reminiscences; Bay Area Art and the 

University of California Art Department . 196! 

Sproul, Ida Wittschen Duty, Devotion and De 1 i ght iri the President s 

House, University of California. 1961 

Hutchison, Claude B. The College of Agriculture, University p_f 

CaTifornia, 1^22-195^ T9"62 

Mer-ritt, Ralph P. After Me Cometh a_ Builder, the Recollections 

of RalpR Palmer Merritt . 1962 

Mitchell, Lucy Sprague 

Pioneering in Education. 1962 

Neylan, John Francis Politics, Law, and the University of California. 


Richardson, Leon J. Berkeley Culture, University of California 

Highlights, and "University ExlTonslon, 

Leasing, Ferdinand D. Early Years. 1963 

Olney, Mary McLean Oakland, Berkeley, and the University o 

California, lcJOO- ~~ 

Pepper, Stephen C. Art and Philosophy at the University of 

CaTirorni a , 1 9 1 9 To 19o2T 1963 

Wurster, William Wilson 

College of Environmental Design, University 
of California, Campus Planning, and 
TTrchltectural Practice . IS b^ 

Lenzen, Victor K. Physics and Philosophy. 

Meyer, Karl F. Medical Research and Public Health. In process 


Interviews fully or partially funded by the University of 
California Alumni Foundation. 

Cross, Ira Brown Portrait o_f_ an Hconomics Professor. 196? 

Cruess, William V. A Half Century in Food and Wine Technology. 


Davidson, Mary Blossom 

The Dean of Women and the Importance of 
?Eudents . 1967 

Hamilton, Brutus Student Athletics and the Voluntary Discipline. 

Wessels, Glenn A. Education of ari Artist. 196? 

Witter, Jean C. The University, the Community and the 

LlTeblood of Busines sT 1968 

Elaisdell, Allen C. Foreign Students and the Berkeley Inter 

national House, 

Evans, Clinton W. California Athlete, Coach, Administrator, 

Ambassador. 196U 

Ebright, Carroll "Ky" California Varsity and Olympics Crew 

Coach. ~ 

Hays, William Charles Order, Taste, and Grace in Architecture. 

Lehman, Benjamin H. Recollections and Reminiscences of Life 

in the Bay Area from 1920 Onward. 1969 

Underhill, Robert M. University of California Lands, Finances, 

and Investmerits~I 


Corley, James V. Serving the University In Sacramento. 

In process. 

Dennes, William R. Philosophy and the University Since 

1915 In process. 

Donnelly, Ruth On housing for students. In process. 

Johnston, Marguerite Kulp 

Student Housing, Welfare, and the ASUC, 
In process. 

Mixer, Joseph R. On housing for students. In process. 

Towle, Katherine A. On the Office of the Dean of Students. 

In process. 



The following interviews have been completed by the Regional Oral History 
Office, a department of The Bancroft Library. The Regional Oral History 
Office was established to tape-record autobiographical interviews with 
persons who have contributed significantly to the development of the West. 
The Office, headed by Willa Baum, is under the administrative supervision 
of the director of The Bancroft Library. Interviews are listed in order 
of completion. 

Macky, E. Spencer 

and Constance Reminiscences 1954 

Siegriest, Louis B. 

and Lundy Reminiscences 1954 

Hagemeyer, Johan Photographer 1956 

Coggins, Herbert L. Herbert Coggins: From Horatio Alger to Eugene Debs 


Norris, Kathleen An Interview with Kathleen Norris 1959 

Morley, Grace L. McCann Art, Artists, Museums, and the San Francisco 

Museum of Art 1960 

Cunningham, Imogen Portraits. Ideas, and Design 1961 

Neuhaus , Eugen Bay Area Art and the University of California Art 

Department 1961 

Pepper, Stephen C. Art and Philosophy at the University of California, 

1919-1962 1963 

Graves, Roy D. Photograph Collection 1964 

Lewis, Oscar Literary San Francisco 1965 

Brother Antoninus Poet, Printer, and Religious 1966 

Turner, Ethel Duffy Writers and Revolutionists 1967 

Wessels, Glenn Education of an Artist 1967 

Lange, Dorothea The Making of a Documentary Photographer 1968 

Lehman, Benjamin Recollections and Reminiscences of Life in the 

Bay Area from 1920 Onward 1969 

Martinez, Elsie Whitaker San Francisco Bay Area Writers and Artists 1969 
Sara Bard Field Wood Poet and Suffragist in Process 



Advisors and 

Time and 
Setting of the 

Benjamin H. Lehman was approached to be 
Interviewed In April 1959* at the suggestion 
of Professor Walton E. Bean of the Department 
of History and Professor James Hart of the 
Department of English. The interviews were 
to be directed at gathering information about 
Bay Area artists and writers, and recent 
University history, because Professor Bean 
was compiling a history to appear In centennial 
year 1969. However, the interviews were put 
off for a few years and when, in May 196^, Mr. 
Lehman agreed to begin with Interviewer Mrs. 
Amelia Pry, after two interviews it was 
decided that Mrs. Suzanne Riess, because of 
her recent interviewing work in related fields, 
could more appropriately Interview Mr. Lehman 
on Bay Area and University cultural history. 

The dates of the interviews with Mr. Lehman 
were May 1, May 2?, August 8, August 25, 
September 23, 196^; January 29, 1965; June 23, 
June 30 July 7, August 19, September 1, 
November 10, December 15, 1966; May 1, May 2?, 
1968. The several hiatuses in interviewing 
were variously caused by trips to the East 
and to Palm Desert by Mr. Lehman; and to the 
maternity ward twice by Mrs. Riess. 

The interviews were held at "Hayfield House," 
the Lehman residence in Saratoga. Although 
Mr. Lehman often comes to the Berkeley campus, 
when he does the pressure of the University 
roles he fills is great, as it always was. 
So, the decision to interview in Saratoga was 
felicitous, both for Mr. Lehman, who was more 
comfortable there, and certainly for the 
interviewer, who was often made a lunch 
guest in a lovely home. 

To be met at the car by Mr. Lehman, coming 
out hatted into the heat of a Saratoga 
morning, was to enter into a world that was 
always a pleasure to visit. After the grinding 


noise and Industry of freeway Oakland and San 
Leandro, and after the stretch of farmland 
that is the future scene of a hundred new 
tracts, one rounds the bend to San Jose and 
heads West toward the pass over the Santa 
Cruz mountains. Just before the climb are 
Los Gatos and Saratoga. Up a great pear-tree- 
lined drive, and briefly hidden by enormous 
oleanders, is Hayfleld House. Julia Morgan 
designed the house for Mrs. Lehman, and the 
grandness of its location, and its great 
fireplace and furnishings, are set off by 
many small charms. Enclosed gardens offer 
alternatives to the tremendous outlook down 
across the Saratoga valley and up to the Santa 
Cruz mountains. Peonies and carnations and 
delphinium stand like hedges in the midst of 
the kitchen garden that is visible behind a 
grove of old and beautiful trees. 

The veranda, where we often had coffee after 
lunch, and sometimes Interviewed, was a 
sheltered place of lush begonias and the 
screened background to a rush of hummingbirds. 
On the inside, the house worked a magical 
balance of scale. The entrance and flanking 
dining and living wings were large, cool, and 
quiet, and then around a corner was Mr. 
Lehman s study, full with books to read, 
papers, correspondence, photograph albums, 
piles that were orderly, but growing. Here, 
where most of the interviewing took place, 
was comfort of a special and inviting sort, 
and the works of art were of the right size 
and feeling for the room. It s a good house 
to visit; often there were grandchildren in 
residence, and a grandchild s dog, too. Mary 
McHugh, the housekeeper, was a pleasant 
hostess when Mrs. Lehman was away from the 

Conduct of the Mr. Lehman was concerned that when the roachine 
Interviews: was on we speak to the point, and this meant 

that although written outlines were not 
submitted ahead of the interview, we did 
discuss subjects to be covered for about 
fifteen minutes before turning on the already 
set-up tape recorder. Then it was, "Well, 
Mrs. Hiess, you have asked why... 11 and Mr. 
Lehman s very orderly approach to an hour s 

talk would dominate the interviewing 
situation. He spoke in ideas, in paragraphs. 
My questions generally cut into a sentence, 
but the thought was not lost sight of and 
the sentence continued around the question of 
detail or amplification that I had injected. 

His reputation as a clear and instructive 
speaker is well known, but in one of our 
interviews he said, as we talked about his 
central idea of "the image of the work," 

"I thought [long ago], when people 
were beginning to write books about 
my approach to the novel and afterwards 
dedicating the books to me but still 
they were my ideas I thought that I 
would get a stenotypist to take down the 
lectures that explored and exhibited 
works of fiction in the light of the 
approach that I was making. When I got 
the stenotyped manuscript, I thought, 
My God, do I talk like that, all that 
thin, thin stuff? 1 Then I realized that 
a lecture has to be thinned down, as 
distinguished from a seminar discussion, 
because the undergraduates would not pick 
up what you have to say if you made it 
as compact as you make it for graduate 
students. But I always thought that 
what went on paper should be more compact 
and have greater intellectual density. 

"I often wondered whether Lionel 
Trilling, when he got on the platform for 
a lecture to students, weighed every phrase 
and indeed every word and kept the 
sensitivity which his published writing 
has. I discovered that what I did in the 
lecture hall was far thinner than what I 
wrote when I sat down to say on paper what 
I had said with the voice in the lecture 
room. This is partly because the student 
body cannot be counted on to take it in if 
it is as compact and dense as you write 
it. It is partly also because you have 
an intuitive sense that personality and 
voice are filling in where the actual 
verbal thinness occurs. You yourself are 
part of the lecture. The intonation 


expresses your sense of excitement or 
amusement or Irony in the words, so that 
the words don t have to carry it all. It 
may well be that even a laugh on your part 
Is part of the lecture. 

"When I was lecturing in Wheeler 
Auditorium on The Bible as Literature, or 
The Novel, and the auditorium was full, 
a report verbatim of what I said was not 
enough to Justify this congregation. 
There was something else too, a communicated 
sense of mental excitement, perhaps of 
temperamental recognitions; these things 
all are a part of it." 

I asked him then, "And you feel that this 
manuscript is thin in this way too?" 

He said, "Yes, it doesn t seem to me to be 
fully true." 

This sort of disclaimer seems necessary to 
many interviewees. He was concerned that the 
manuscript was thin; he would be distressed 
that a session was Just an hour of names and 
that he didn t have time to give to the name 
all the body and substance he wished it to 
have. But beyond this, he understood the 
needs of the Oral History Project and didn t 
allow his ego as a writer and lecturer (and 
later as his own editor) to swamp the 
conversational and associative quality of the 

Editing: The manuscript, as edited by the interviewer, 

was sent to Mr. Lehman for editing in April 
196? and completed by him in the spring of 
1968. Editing by the Interviewer meant 
punctuating and paragraphing to clarify the 
structure of the sessions that was given by 
Mr. Lehman but sometimes lost in transcription. 
Some sections were shifted, for chronological 
reasons, making the early autobiographical 
material appear first; and to pull together 
the last two chapters, "On Being English 
Department Chairman, " and "On Writing and on 
Living." Mr. Lehman s comments and corrections 
were few, his editing was very light, mostly 


in response to spelling and factual queries, 
although he did wish to do the final May 1968 
interview to add to the loyalty oath section 
and to expand some other answers. (The May 
1968 date is indicated in brackets.) Proof 
reading was done by Mr. James Slsson of The 
Bancroft Library. 

Suzanne B. Riess 

l+ June 1969 

Regional Oral History Office 
486 The General Library 
University of California 
Berkeley, California 








Migration of the Lehman and Lflvinger Families 1 

European Cultural Heritage 3 

Adjustments to Living In Idaho and Philadelphia 6 

Schooling and Entry Into Harvard 11 

HARVARD, 1907-1911 *5 

George Santayana 15 

Joslah Royoe 17 

Charles Townsend Copeland s Course In Composition 18 

Other Teaching Personalities 21 
The Class of 1911 

Cambridge and the World 30 




Marlon Randall Parsons 46 

Bertha Pope Damon 47 

Elizabeth Warder Ellis 48 

Albert Bender 52 

Mrs. William Penman 58 

Differences Among the Social Groups 62 

Benjamin Lehman, Berkeleyan 66 

The Husbands 68 

Rainy Night Club 71 

Musical Experiences 73 

The Duncan McDuffies 76 

The Lordly Ones 78 


Social and Working Life, Then and Now 81 

Summer Sessions and Why They Throve 90 

Jessica Peiiotto. the Adolph Millers, and Others 95 

Gifts from the East: The Visitors 102 

The Retirement Dinners: Summing-Ups 106 


Introduction to Los Gatos and Carmel 109 

Financial Aid to Artists 111 

Charles Erskine Scott Wood and Sara Bard Field 113 

Robinson Jeffers 116 

A Guest at San Simeon, and Meetings with the 

Grand Duchess 123 


The Sullivan-Phelan Family Background 134 
Living Abroad and Studying Voioe 

Comments on Sullivan s Interests as a Calif ornlan 

Personal and Religious Life l6l 



Getting it Started 181 

Pre-Department History of Theater in the Area 189 

The Years as Chairman 19^ 

Benjamin Lehman and the Theater 197 


English Department Curriculum and Comparative 

Literature Course 201 

The Library Committee 20? 

The Novel Course and English 4l 218 

Ph.D. Candidates and "The Image of the Work" 222 

Budget Committee 236 

The University s Reputation Grows 24? 

The President s Advisory Committee 251 


Regent John Francis Neylan and the Oath Proposal 259 
"Loyalty." "Academic Freedom." and Feelings in 19^9 26? 

President Robert Gordon Sproul and the Oath 2?6 
Controller James Corley and the Oath 

Benjamin Lehman and the Oath 283 





INDEX 339 


The Migration of the Lehman and LoVinger Families 

Lehman: I was born in a mining camp in northern Idaho. 
Nobody s place of birth could have been more 
accidental. My mother was a European, of a dis 
tinguished family. She had been born in Ulm, on 
the Danube Hannah LoVinger. She grew up in a house 
on the Donaustrasse which had been a monastery and 
was acquired a couple of generations back by her 
family. She was the sixth of eight children; the 
four oldest were sons, the four youngest daughters. 

Of those eight children, only one remained in 
Germany. The failure of the revolutions in 18^8 and 
conditions in the 1880s had apparently disillusioned 
the four brothers. In any case, they didn t like 
what they foresaw to be the militarism of Germany, 
and they all came to America. The two oldest came 
first as travelers, to look the ground over, and 
then after a year s return to Germany, they migrated, 
setting themselves up in different cities one in 
Chicago, one in Pittsburgh, one in Sioux City, and 
one, an unmarried one, went on, I believe, to Australia 
and was more or less out of touch with the family 

The sisters traveled in America after the 
brothers were settled here, visited a cousin by 
marriage in Newark, New Jersey, and returned to 
Europe. The eldest one then married there and 
remained; she had ten sons, who were in the First 
World War to make a very sorrowful element in the 
lives of their aunts in America whose sons served 
on the American side, while the German- cousins 
fought on the German side. 

My mother s return led to more travel. She had 
an uncle, the father of Judge LCvinger of Minneapolis, 
and the grandfather of the Lee Lflvinger who has 
lately been Associate Attorney General in the present 
Cabinet. She visited this uncle first, and then went 

Lehman: on to visit her oldest brother, who had made Invest 
ments in mines in northern Idaho. She knew nothing 
about the climate, and In October of 1888 she 
entered from Thompson Falls, on the Great Northern 
Hallway, over the Glidden Pass into the mining town 
of Burke, her brother s postal address. Burke had. 
in it no woman who wasn t living under a sign of a 
red light. This dismaying circumstance resulted 
in her sending for her brother, who came to get her 
from Murray, Idaho, and she spent November with him 
there and there met again the man who became my 
father, who had two years earlier been a guest in 
her father s house in Ulm. 

He [Abe Lehman] had gone abroad with his mother 
for a year to travel; he was a cripple and couldn t 
dance. His mother had a letter of introduction to 
my Grandfather Lflvinger in Ulm, and sent it round 
from the hotel and was invited that evening to an 
already planned ball. The boy who couldn t dance 
elicited the sympathy of the most sympathetic of the 
four daughters of the house, who didn t herself dance 
that night but saw that he was sufficiently entertained, 
The next day the boy and his mother disappeared to 
Munich and Vienna and Rome, and back to New York. 

The daughter didn t see him again until she 
ran into him by chance in northern Idaho, where he 
was "pioneering," without any responsibility, on his 
mother s income, or on allowances made by his mother. 
They met again in November or early December of 1888, 
and were married on the 19th of January, in Delta, 
a mining town a couple of miles from Murray that has 
completely vanished. I was born in Mullan, a few 
miles south, in October of that year. Another son 
a year later, and a daughter a year and a half later, 
caused my Grandmother Lehman from New York to call a 
halt to all this magnificent pseudo-pioneering. No 
more allowances. 

My father persuaded her to send him back to 
school he d never gone to college. He went to 
Philadelphia, enrolled in veterinary medicine, 
graduated first in his class, then enrolled in human 
medicine, graduated first in his class, in 1898, and 
then we came back to Idaho where he practiced. It s 
more exact to say that he practiced now and then, and 
mostly rode horseback in the hills. 

Fry: It sounds like a pretty unusual life. 

Lehman: Well, It was peculiar simply In that we were 

Europeans and New Yorkers In a mining camp. We had 
books, such music as was then available on cylinders; 
we had the report of life in Europe at the fireside. 
In some ways we would not have had any different 
life if we d been living in New York. Occasionally 
a play came through, and we were always taken to the 
theater from the age of nine or ten. By that time 
we were in the new county seat, Wallace. 

I remember Ward and James playing in The Tempest, 
and Macbeth, and Hamlet, three nights running. I 
remember Blanche Walsh, a boyhood flame of my father s 
in New York, coming out with Tolstoy s Resurrection. 
When Patti came to Portland, my brother and I, and 
my mother and father went to Spokane and spent the 
night, and then got on the train and spent the night 
in Portland, and the next night we heard Patti sing, 
and then we made the three-day trip back. These 
were things that we did; that was our intake. It s 
a combination of living where you cross the street 
and go up the mountain into the forest, and having 
on the shelves the novels of Tolstoy as they were 
beginning to be translated, and all of Huxley and 
Tyndall and Darwin, Thackeray, Dickens. And we were 
bilingual; we spoke German in the household, and my 
mother taught me, long before we came back to Idaho, 
all the best-known lyrics of Goethe by heart, and 
longer poems by Schiller, like Die Glocke. 

European Cultural Heritage 

Pry: It seems to me your mother must have had some 

difficulty in bringing to her family all she wanted 
to in the way of her cultural heritage. 

Lehman: There is a story about my mother which illustrates 
the way one civilization can confront another in 
terms of small things. It has to do with linen and 
laundry. In Idaho, by and large, families were 
servantless, and if a woman had any help at all she 
was likely not to have a cleaning woman but a washer 
woman, who came In on Monday and did the washing and 

Lehman: oame In Tuesday morning to do the ironing. And in 
the afternoon she d go to someone else to do the 
washing one day and the ironing the next. This 
weekly exercise was a totally new thing to my mother, 
who when she had been a guest in Newark and with kin 
coming out West hadn t known how the houses ran, 
because her setup in Ulm involved laundry at great 
intervals, when the gypsies came to do it. In 
winter this was sometimes three months. 

There was in my grandfather s house a vast room 
with a high ceiling with racks of different sorts in 
it, so that linen which had been used, sheets, the 
covers for featherbeds and pillowcases, as well as 
personal laundry, were hung up and aired in this 
great room, and allowed to accumulate, soiled as they 
were, until that s why they were aired, you see the 
gypsies came by, took it down to the Danube and 
washed it. As my mother told it to me, sometimes this 
was a matter of a fortnight or a month, sometimes a 
matter of three months. And this was the universal 
practice through south Germany and Austria in those 
years . 

Well, if you have a change of linen at reasonable 
intervals, even if you have a small family this means 
you must have a great deal of linen, and so my mother s 
linen dowry, as distinguished from any money dowry, 
which she was provided with too, of course, consisted 
of twelve dozen enormous linen sheets, and the appro 
priate number of pillow cases. And endless underskirts, 
I can remember my sisters within a decade of this 
moment, my younger sister has still been using 
embroideries from petticoats and made shirtwaists of 
them. Hand-embroidered, scalloped petticoats in 
sufficient number to handle the long winter. 

I had a very strong sense as I grew up of Europe, 
and I think that came partly because of what, with 
my particular nature, a language carries. If the 
language of your nursery is German, these words carry 
all kinds of filaments attached to ways of life which 
are German, especially if your mother is a German 
who is only now learning to speak English. She spoke 
fastidiously, carefully, but the easy flow of English 
came with her children beginning to speak English 
after they went to school. You get a sense of a 
foreign country if you get that feel of the language 

Lehman: which comes from having it the language of the 

nursery. The asking for the meanings of words often 
led my mother to describe to us how they did things 
in her old home. I tell about the gypsies and the 
laundry, but there was also the business of feeding 

They wanted fat geese, and they kept them in 
the old vaulted basement, the crypt of the monastery 
which was my grandfather s house on the Danube, in 
boxes with slats so their necks could come out 
between the slats, and they couldn t take any 
exercise. My mother described to me her horror as 
a child when she first went down and saw two maids 
sitting astride two boxes in which geese were, 
feeding geese corn, stroking the corn down their 
throats so they would fatten. This was a thing that 
in Idaho, with a farmyard two miles up the canyon 
where we got milk and chickens, was so different 
from what I saw there, that it meant old Europe to 

She would describe how Christmas was with them 
as distinguished from how it was with us, and then 
she would make part of our Christmas holiday like 
their Christmas holiday. Since as a girl it had 
been customary for them to gather around the great 
open fireplace in the evenings to prepare, from the 
raw materials, lemon peel, orange peel, and open 
nuts, pound cardamon in mortars and pestles, and 
cinnamon, allspice we did that. We didn t have an 
open fireplace in Idaho so we did it around the old- 
fashioned base burner. 

Then it became clear to me and I can remember 
asking questions that in Ulm you couldn t go to the 
store every day, everything was laid in for five or 
six months at a time. (My mother s mother died when 
she was a little girl; she had a stepmother whom she 
always referred to as her second mother, "Meine 
zweite Mutter.") She would explain how these 
preparations were made. Her father and mother would 
go and buy pounds of cinnamon, and she described 
what the storerooms were like and what they smelled 
like, and how "her second mother" would carry a 
great bunch of keys on a chain so that it wore a 
hole in her apron, how she would go in every morning 
and weigh out the butter with the housekeeper, and 

Lehman: the housekeeper would tell the cook how much was to 
be used for lunch and how much for dinner. So I got 
a sense of Europe there. 

And we heard about my mother f s first travels, 
to Munich and Stuttgart and finally to Paris and 
Vienna, described from her girlhood. She spoke of 
the differences in the wild flowers. We would go 
out and nick rooster heads and Johnny- Jump-uos, 
trillium, and mother would talk about lilies-of-the- 
valley and things which for us were rarities. So 
in this way too Europe came into our consciousness, 
this plus the fact that when you read, you read 
Grimm * s 

Tales in German, and the words had 

all those filamented relations. You read Schiller, 
poems, and other stories. 

Riess: Did your mother sing around the house? 

Lehman: No. She hummed off -tune, off -pitch. She never had 
an ear. It was a tradition in iny father s family 
that every child learn to play an instrument or 
sing, and he sang beautifully, with a beautiful 
baritone voice. We all had music lessons, and my 
mother was perfectly content, when I was sitting at 
the piano, because she didn t know whether I was 
playing Yankee Doodle or a Bach Invention. 

She had a warm response to America. Her idol 
in biography, and she never ceased reading about 
him, was Abraham Lincoln, whom she pronounced with 
the second "1" sounded. She handed that on to my 
youngest brother; he s a real authority on Lincoln, 
he has the letters and speeches all by heart. He s 
been the head of a great corporation, but you could 
start him anywhere on any speech or letter of Lincoln, 
and he can finish it. 

Adjustments to Living in Idaho and Philadelphia 

Riess: Was the home in Idaho in town, or in the country? 

Lehman: We lived in the town. It was a small town, a little 
triangulated area among mountains. The Coeur-d Alene 

Lehman: River flowed out toward Spokane and Lake Coeur- 

d Alene, and there was Plaoer Creek, which in those 
days was still clear, there were no mines there the 
river from the two mining canyons flowed lead-color. 
There were only a dozen blocks of houses. We lived 
in progressively less good ones, because my father 
was not expert at doing anything except spending 
his Inheritance, and what was worse, spending my 
mother s inheritance. So we didn t have as ample 
a background toward the end as we d had at the 
beginning, which was probably very good for all of 

Rless: He became a veterinarian 

Lehman: He studied veterinary medicine and was assistant to a 
Dr. Knowles, who was assistant state veterinarian for 
Montana, the first year. Because where we were in 
Philadelphia he so nearly died in desire for the 
wilds, and the mountains, he went out and had himself 
a good year of it on the range, while we stayed in 
Mullan. We still had the house in Mullan, Idaho, 
in which I was born, which was Just a clapboard 
affair. Then he went down to Wallace and practiced. 

Riess: Where is Wallace? 

Lehman: Wallace is the county seat of Shoshone County; 

Mullan, the town I was born in, is seven miles to 
the east, toward Missoula. Wallace is ninety miles 
from Spokane, or was, it s less now with the new 

It was a delightful place to grow up In, it 
couldn t have been better. It was like this [Saratoga], 
except that the hills had no houses on them and had 
heavier forest, and were closer to us. You Just 
walked across the street, past one garden, and then 
our own stables which were on another street, and 
then you went up the hill into the woods, chiefly 
tamarack woods. 

So we had everything. We had the western and 
the eastern America; we had a vital life of the mind, 
an awareness of the things the mind addresses itself 
to; we had wilderness and cultivation; we had Europe 
and America; we had two languages. 


Riess: And the companionship of people in the town 

Lehman i Oh, delightful, delightful. Three Falls in the 
novel [The Lordly Ones] is the way I remember 

Riess i Your parents loved it. 

Lehman: My father was in love with it. He couldn t bear to 
be away from it. Like a dog that we took East in 
1906 to Philadelphia, he died in six months you 
know, a Philadelphia back yard is cemented and 20 
feet square. My father said after he came East with 
us and stayed for a year, "I m going back to Idaho. 
If I stay here I ll die the way Frisk did." It was 
true; he was in love with it. He was a complicated 
man, who deserves a book, coming out of New York as 
he did, out of his heredity, out of his wealth, 
tossing everything aside for a sense of freedom 
fascinating, though grievous in many ways. 

My mother loved where she was, provided her 
children were there. That sounds as though she 
lived off them but she never did. She never kept 
the slightest finger on us at any stage. She loved 
it especially I think in Idaho she loved the 
neighbors at her gate, the drop-in thing, before 
people dined out much, or lunched out. 

But she had a great deal to do with our going 
East to school, and of course we had been East until 
I was nine, you see, while our father was in the 
medical school. When things came through the 
Goeur d Alenes nothing was ever missed, and I m not 
sure I never talked to her about it, but I m not 
sure that she didn t feel that a period of consolida 
tion would be good. We had been West; we had been 
East; when we came West again at the turn of the 
century we stopped to see all our kin who lived in 
different places. So we had a good many images to 

Fry: Didn t you go to Europe? 

Lehman: No. The six years my father was in medical school 

were the years we were to have gone. Then in 1903 I 
went with my father for four months, and after that 
I was busy, and after that I think the next time was 
the summer of 1912. 

Riess: Had your mother been part of a casual society in 

Lehman: No, no, very elaborate. She lived in a house with 
forty rooms. I haven t had the heart to go back 
since the last war because we bombed Ulm so on 
account of the watchworks there which made bomb 
apparatus. Before the war, one-half of the old 
monastic foundation of three stories and the deep 
crypt had been turned into a very large department 
store, and the other half, up under the barrel 
vaults, and a magnificent central stairway, had been 
turned into sixteen apartments. So she had lived 
there, with connections up in the Bavarian and Swabian 
Alps, from which the family had come five genera 
tions before, and connections in Munich and Stuttgart. 
My mother described what they called dancing to us 
it was what we call a ball in the old sense, an 
elegantly turned-out affair with music and dancing 
and courtesy making a special climate. 

But in Idaho she didn t miss any of those things. 
She was born for the life she had, and was equal to 
practically anything. She loved the pioneer thing, 
though she was so shocked when she came to America, 
she told me, when she discovered that American women 
went to a store and bought shoes and gloves that 
they could put on. She had always had hers made to 

Riess: It sounds like quite an abrupt change. 

Lehman: It never floored her. It shocked her, but she got 
over the shock. 

Riess: When she had more command of the language and went 

back to Philadelphia, did she lead a more sophisticated 
life there? 

Lehman: She had sisters there, and a brother-in-law whom she 
adored, and she made friends everywhere easily, so 
that there was no lack of social life. 

I remember our driving down one cold winter 
night to the Academy of Music, to the opera. It was 
my birthday. We went into the opera and had very 
comfortable seats and she looked about her and she 
said, "Weiss du es felt mir ein." "You know, it 


Lehman: occurs to me, it is very nice to be anonymous." We 
were there to enjoy the music, and here were all 
these people in the boxes the names of whom every 
body knew, and we were sitting in good stalls, and 
it was nice to be anonymous. 

Riess: Why don t we speak a little more about your father, 

Lehman: Well, it s so wrong to say anything unless you say 

it all, you know. It s very extraordinary. He lost 
his father early; his mother was handsome, a tremen 
dously vivacious and energetic woman, who in an age 
when it wasn t easy to do so married several times 
and I think had at least one long liaison. She left 
New York and went to Europe with men, left him alone 
with servants; then when he got a little older and 
was very handsome, she took him along the elder 
woman and the handsome son. This all made a very 
special thing. He didn t like conventional study, 
and didn t go to college until he went to professional 
school later. 

There was that. Then he was run over when he 
was a kid and was a cripple all his life. He was 
playing hooky from school and teetering on a stand 
of lumber, and the lumber fell and he was thrown 
between the front and rear trucks of a horsecar. He 
pulled himself out, except for the right knee and 
that knee was crushed, so that leg never grew and 
he had a cork leg. This was both an advantage, 
because it made for personality and he had all the 
rest that was needed and a disadvantage, and perhaps 
even so far as it was an advantage it was a dis 
advantage because it made him rely on being striking. 

Oh, this could go on forever. [Laughing] Just 
think what twenty sentences you d want to say about 
your father. You can t do it. But he was brilliant, 
he was persuasive he was a wonderful story teller, 
and he had beautiful hands, I remember thinking, a 
beautiful speaking voice, beautiful singing voice, 
and then his flat wheel, as he called his crippled 
leg. He bumped down the street on it. 

Rlesst Old he use a cane? 

Lehman: No, he didn t need a cane. He had two cork legs, one 
that he used for walking, and then he d come home and 


Lehman: get out of his trousers and take this thing off, 
which was hooked here [knee] and over the foot, 
and put on another one to go riding. He was always on 
a horse when he could get time for it. 

Riess: He was really desirous of the unrestricted life, but 
it sounds as though his life was always unrestricted, 
not as if he were getting away from restrictions. 

Lehman: Well, he found ways to make himself freedom at any 

I don t find that this is I sometimes thought 
I d sit down and Just begin with one memory and spin 
it together, but this can t throw any light on what 
kind of thing i ve done. The only effect he had on 
me was to make me, when I was younger, want to be 
like him good storytelling, the swiftness and close- 
cutting of the phrase when he talked, and then later 
of course inevitably some resentment. The money 
was gone. Those are ways in which he affected me. 

But he certainly urged Latin, urged Greek, 
though he hadn t had Greek, and said, "Good schooling, 
good schooling," and he urged us all to be chemical 
engineers because he said that s where the future 
was, as Indeed it was, and was very exasperated with 
me when I came back from Harvard at the end of the 
freshman year and said, "Well, I ve had all the 
chemistry I m going to have. I m going to study 
literature." He said, "What a sissy business." 
[Laughter] We didn t discuss it any more after that. 
You see, he believed both things he believed it was 
a sissy business but you ought to be free to do what 
you want. 

Schooling and Entry into Harvard 

Pry t Did you go to a public school in Idaho? 

Lehman: Well, in the first place, I was supposed to have 

some heart difficulty, though I ve done three men s 
work and have lasted seventy-five years; still this 
is there and was there. I was kept out of school a 


Lehman: good deal, which made me more bilingual than the 
others because I got deeper Into the German. But 
I did go to school steadily from my eleventh year 
In Wallace, I think, and there were excellent 
schools. (My father, Incidentally, was a member of 
the school board, and the schools were well supported 
by the saloon taxes, which were terrific In the 
county seat where men came down from the camps on 
weekends. They charged some enormous sum for the 
license, and this all went Into the school tax.) 

We had very good teachers; I began Latin In the 
seventh grade and Greek In the eighth, and we had 
excellent physics and chemistry, good English 
teaching, good history, and so on. When I went away 
to school I was sent to Philadelphia 

Pry: This was to the equivalent of high school? 

Lehman: Well, I went to Wallace public schools in the seventh 
grade, and there was real rivalry. A number of boys 
and girls from that community went out and did 
important things; the Moffitt boys went out or at 
least one of them went out, and become president of 
a great corporation in Buffalo. Enoch Barnard became 
vice-president or president of Anaconda Copper. Two 
of them became college professors, besides myself, 
out of this little town. So there was good teaching 
and a good vibrant pre-intelleotual life. 

In any case, I went from there East, because I 
was to go to college, and because my father, though 
he esteemed the schools in Wallace, still didn t 
think they would be as good as schools in the East. 
I went to the best school I ever was in a far better 
educational Institution than Harvard was, to which 
I went when I graduated. I went to Central High 
School in Philadelphia, which was one of the notable 
schools in this country, and founded as the College 
of the City of Philadelphia by Franklin, I think. 
It still gave an A.B. degree in my time. It had the 
most tremendous program, rigorously administered, 
well taught; much was expected of the student by the 
teacher. I went there for the eleventh and twelfth 
year in the public school system, and got into 
Harvard by entrance examinations. At Harvard I took 
an A.B. degree in four years with summos honores 
and summa cum laude one for the field and the other 


Lehman: for the rating in the class. And I think these 

successes were fostered by the high school training. 

I had intended to go to the University of 
Pennsylvania, it was all I d ever heard of. My 
father took his medical degrees there in the day 
when Penn was perhaps the best of the schools, and 
that s what I heard of. I went to high school in 
Philadelphia and my teachers, John Louis Haney 
especially, were Penn men, and I was going to 
Pennsylvania. Then one day in my Junior year I had 
a letter from my mother saying that she had decided 
that with my next brother, who was a year younger, 
coming East to school the next year, and my sister, 
who was two years younger, coming the year after 
that, the family would Just dribble away, so she 
would come to Philadelphia and open a house and set 
it going and then we could all have a nice place from 
which to go to the University of Pennsylvania. 

I don t know what lightning struck in my brain, 
but the next afternoon I went to Albert Henry Smyth, 
the Benjamin Franklin editor, who was my English 

"What s the best university in America?" 
He said, "Oh, Harvard, unquestionably." 

I said, "That s where I ll go." And the only 
reason I wanted to go was to get away. I was not 
going to live at home any more. I was fifteen. 

So I went to Harvard, badly prepared in some 
ways and very wonderfully prepared in others. My 
German was still hobbling me, you see, so that I 
flunked entrance English at Harvard and had to take 
the examination over, which I did. You had to take 
26 points, a whole battery of examinations. 

Riess: Your high school was a college preparatory school? 
Lehman: Yes. It was a liberal arts school, but it was wide. 

Well, then I went to Harvard, and I did some 
chemistry and I did some astronomy, because I was 
going to be a chemical engineer. My adviser, whom 
I had never seen before and who didn t know anything 

Lehman: about me or about my background and asked no ques 
tions, told me to take English 28, the history of 
English literature. It was given by every professor 
of literature In his field, a different man coming 
In on the different periods, and It began with 
Klttredge on Anglo-Saxon literature. We had Nellson, 
and on down to Bliss Perry who d Just finished being 
editor of the Atlantic. Well, when I d had that 
array, that finished everything. 

In preparatory school, In John Louis Haney and 
Albert Henry Smyth, I had had two very notable 
teachers of English and literature; I had taken a 
fancy to both and both seemed to take a fancy to 
me, and this may have started to tilt things toward 
literature. Nevertheless, when I went up I planned 
to be, as my father had urged, a chemical engineer, 
and I planned to have an undergraduate course In 
chemistry and then some advanced courses (perhaps 
at M.I.T., In my mind, though my father thought 
again, back to Pennsylvania ), advanced courses in 
chemical engineering, perhaps degrees. My brothers 
pursued those careers on my father s urging and 
had distinguished careers, both as chemical engineers 
and as administrators of great concerns. 

But when I had been exposed to this freshman 
course, with everybody from Kittredge in the beginning 
to Bliss Perry at the end, lecturing on literature, 
I was through with the other thing. I think there 
was a property of laziness operative; it seemed so 
easy to do and so pleasant. I never had the feeling 
that I was studying in that field, and I always had 
the feeling that I was studying, or in the laboratory, 
working, when I was lined up on the chemistry beam. 

Riess: How strong then was the push from your father? What 
happened when you headed in the literature direction? 

Lehman: He was scornful. It was la-di-da stuff, it was not 
a career, at all. I remember saying to him, "Well, 
if you hadn t steered me away from medicine, in the 
practice of which I think I could have had all the 
human factors that I need, then I wouldn t have 
turned to literature where I get the human factors 
at second-hand." And I think that nonplussed him 
for a moment because he had earlier, and pretty 
consistently, warned us against the slavery of a 

Lehman: doctor s life which was only really warning us of 

what could be because he himself never really allowed 
himself to be enslaved by It. [Laughter] 


HARVARD, 1907-1911 

George Santayana 

Lehman: My adviser also told me to take history of philosophy, 
which I did, ancient philosophy with George Herbert 
Palmer, very simple, very understandable, very 
wonderful, In Its way. The second half of the course, 
modern philosophy beginning with Descartes, was with 
Santayana. I was beguiled by the precision, the 
suggestlveness, and the elegance of every phrase as 
that man sat there talking to us freshmen about 
Descartes. I m sure that after the first lecture 
It had already happened that I had decided I would 
never be without him one semester from then on. 

Yet gradually It dawned on me after about two 
or three weeks with Santayana that I didn t really 
understand, though I d gotten an "A" with Palmer. 
So after the class I went up there were no discus 
sions, Just lectures I went up and said, "Mr. 
Santayana, sir, I think I m not really understanding. 
Is there a book you could recommend to me in which I 
could practice understanding?" 

He had a very honeyed voice, sat behind the 
desk because he didn t like to be seen moving around, 
his legs were so short and fat, and over the black 
beard and in the honeyed voice, he said, "Have you 
had any philosophy?" 

I said, "I had Philosophy A with Professor 
Palmer. " 

Santayana said, "Did you prosper in it?" 
I said, "I got an A , sir." 


Lehman: Santayana said, "Mr. Palmer feeds you pap." 
Isn t that wonderful? [Laughter] 

So In the wake of that I Just listened some 
more and thought about it when I wasn t in class, 
and pretty soon I was having a rip-roaring time up 
here, absolutely enjoying the thinking it started. 
I ve hardly gone a day in my life since without 
thinking of Santayana s ideas, and without opening 
a book of his, here or there. Every semester I 
stayed with a Santayana course, and when he taught 
ethics I was one of the seven people who elected to 
be in it, when Harvard had 3000 undergraduates. 
Walter Lippmann was in it, T.S. Eliot was in it, and, 
I think, Kenneth Maogowan. 

Riess: Nobody else wanted to be in it? 

Lehman: They didn t take it, I don t know why. He didn t 

have the vogue then. It was only later, when he left 
Harvard, that he had a wide spread of appeal. He 
wasn t "discovered." 

Well, Santayana was a great experience. 
Kittredge in a different way was a great experience, 
Just ripping in with a phrase and disemboweling the 
subject. And Bliss Perry, cuddling up to a subject 
and coaxing its secrets out of it. Totally different 
men, totally different temperaments, totally different 
approaches. Advisers didn t bother to force you into 
the right courses. I knew about these men from that 
long history of literature course, so I studied with 
them. I should have been taking economics, you 
know, and political science and gone into banking, 
like the earlier family, but I didn t. I think it 
would have been better if I d been put in Government 1 
and Economics 1, as well as these other things. 

Hiess: Did your first adviser continue to advise you? 

Lehman: No. The advisers shifted. It was the disintegrating 
end of the elective system. You could take anything 
you wanted, provided you accumulated sixteen courses 
with a "C" or better. Advising was easy going, 
almost indifferent. 

Riess: So your four years were under the free elective system? 


Lehman: Yes. Lowell came in when I was a Junior and started 
changing things but they didn t get very far and 
besides I was along and had gained a certain right 
to have freedom because I had all "A" grades. If 
you said you wanted to do something they said, 
"What s your grade average?" And then, "Okay." 
So you were allowed to ruin, you see, the balanced 
program. It was overindulgence of a kind, and very 
easy. You were doing what you liked. It was easy 
as breathing. It was in a way like my father and 
the West. Those were my hills. 

Josiah Royce 

Riess: You really noticed the teaching style of these men, 

Lehman: Yes. That was very much part of the experience, the 
teaching style, and some personal contacts that were 
very valuable at one time or another. It was a 
curious thing that I should have come to teach in, 
and to be for a half dozen years the chairman of, 
the department of English in which Josiah Royce 
started his teaching, because Josiah Royce was a 
very striking human influence in those years at 
Harvard as an undergraduate. (I sent in my papers 
to Bancroft my reminiscence of him there, spoken at 
the centennial on campus; I never bothered to print 
it,) And a man I came to know said to me one day 
crossing the Yard in the spring of my freshman year, 
"I was talking to Professor Royoe, telling him about 
the trouble I m having about religion, and he said, 
after we talked for a while, that he would be glad 
to meet with a few of us one evening a week for the 
rest of the semester and tell us the history of his 
religious experience." 

(He was then a much greater reputation than he 
later was, you know. In those days they thought he 
was with Kant and Plato and Socrates. Pauls en at 
Berlin had so ranked him. ) 

Well, I knew who Royce was, I d gone to hear him 
lecture in one of his courses, very pink face, cloud 


Lehman: of white hair, a little fellow, snub nose, uncomplete 
face. When this fellow said, "I told him I d get 
six or eight fellows, do you want to be one of them?" 
I said, "I m not having any difficulty about my 
religious opinions. They don t exist." 

He said, "Well, come In and see what his were 
and maybe talk about your way of looking at things." 

Anyway, I was Involved. We went, and Royce 
sketched for the seven of us, sitting in Brooks 
House before the fireplace, early periods of doubt 
and how he came out ultimately on the philosophy of 

"And now," he said, "I wish each of you would 
go home and think it over and tell me what your 
conception is of immortal values." 

So we all wrote something and he read two or 
three of them, read mine and commented on it, wrote 
a note on the back of it and handed it back. All 
spring we did that. It added greatly to my sense 
of the richness of personality and quality of the 
man, to my alertness to what to look for in advanced 
human entities. But it had no relation to my beliefs; 
they weren t changed. In any case, that was an early 

Charles Townsend Copeland s Course in Composition 

Hiess: Did that group of people contain anybody who later 
was of note? 

Lehman: No, curiously enough. The people who afterwards, 
in that extraordinary undergraduate body of those 
days, did things the kind that were in Who s Who 
in 1935 or so were mostly in Charles Townsend 
Copeland s course in composition. Copeland was a 
funny and eccentric man who lived in one of the 
college dormitories and taught English composition. 
A hundred people tried out to get in, and he took 
twelve. I tried out at the beginning of my sophomore 
year myself and wasn t chosen, but at the beginning 


Lehman: of the second semester one of the men who was chosen 
dropped out or was thrown out, and Cople sent word 
to me and two or three others that we could write 
another trial, a little essay, I ve forgotten what 
specifically. (The first time he had read an essay 
of Robert Louis Stevenson s to the gathering and 
said, "Now go home and write an essay as good as 
that." And then you handed your effort in and he 
picked the ones he liked.) I got into the course 
the second half semester, and Walter Lippmann was 
in it; T.S. Eliot; Kenneth Macgowan; Hiram Motherwell; 
J.T. Addison, the preacher; P.M. Elliott, later the 
head of the Unitarian Church. Anyway, by the time 
we were forty, nine out of the twelve were in Who s 
Who. These were all undergraduates then. 

I learned a lot in Copie s course, largely from 
Just hearing him read aloud and comment on what other 
people wrote. He didn t teach everybody, apparently. 
When T.S. Eliot came to lecture in Berkeley he came 
to supper after the lecture. 

"The last time we spoke to one other was in 
Copie s English 12, so many years ago." 

"Oh," Eliot said, "yes, I remember that course. 
I remember it as the course in which I learned 
absolutely nothing." Well, [laughter], he opened 
himself up wide. But I had hospitable obligations 
and didn t make the obvious retorts.* 

But In that course I think you found your way, 
I think people did. Copie had a way of conference. 
You put your paper in, which consisted of your essay 
or your story, and one page of translation from a 
foreign language, in which you wrote out the Greek 
or the Latin or the French or the German, 

*I speak of T.S. Eliot as a classmate and a snob, 
which may be a little rough on him, so I should like 
to support that by a passage in Leonard Woolf s 
memoirs in which he quotes T.S. Eliot as saying, after 
a party on a weekend, that "I, Tom Eliot, behaved 
like a priggish, pompous, little ass," which is what 
I meant to suggest and I m glad to quote him to the 
same effect. [BHL, May 1968] 


Lehman: and I don t think he ever checked these 

translations but he made sure they came in and you 
put it in the box in his entry of Hollis Hall, and 
you had conference appointments. He collected them 
at 10 o clock on Friday nights, and he put them in a 
dovecote: Eliot, (the other) Elliott, Lehman, 
Lippmann.... And when you went for conference I 
went at 10 o clock in the morning he was usually 
there drinking a dish of tea at the fireplace in a 
very surly post- get-up mood, and he would say, 
"Flutter the dovecote, and bring your paper to the 
table, and read it." [Laughter] 

So we read them. One of my pauers goes back to 
Santayana. I had found in one of the essays of 
Santayana a sentence that fascinated me. Santayana 
said, "Poetry when it supervenes on life is religion; 
religion when it intervenes in life is poetry." This 
fascinated me at the age of seventeen, and so for 
days I thought about it, and I wrote an essay and I 
handed it in to Copeland. And I came up that morning 
and got my essay and sat down at the table, and he 
said, "Read." 

Well, his way was to make comments, which you 
wrote in the margin he didn t bother to do that and 
at the end he d say, ""Fold it over, and write on the 
back;..." You made the marginal comments in black 
ink, and the long comment on the back in red ink. I 
began to read, and he sat there and very faintly 
groaned the whole time. I read it to the end and I 
read it well, and when I got through I waited for 
his comment : 

"Lehman, fold your essay over, and take the red 
ink, and write, Master inquireth: " 

"Written, Mr. Copeland." 

"How much of this is yours and how much is 
Santayana s? Now write, Pupil respondeth: " 

"Written, Mr. Copeland." 

"Now, write your answer." And I wrote. 

"Read it to me," he said. 


Lehman: And I read, "The quotation is from Mr, Santayana, 
sir, the rest is mine." 

"Take the red ink and write, Master observeth: 
I didn t understand a goddamn word of it so I thought 
it was all Santayana." 1 

[Laughter] I still have that paper. Isn t that 
wonderful ? 

You know, you learn more under those circumstances 
than any amount of picayune pother. 

Riess: Were you doing any fiction writing, or poetry, at 
that time? 

Lehman: No. For the writing courses I wrote essays and some 

small reminiscences of experiences from the Idaho time 
for Mr. Copeland. I thought about it a little bit now 
and then, enjoyed very much narrating events, usually 
a comic event, but was never conscious of the other; 
it wasn t really until I got out and had a great deal 
more brooding leisure, at Moscow, Idaho, and at 
Pullman, Washington, when I was teaching that I began 
thinking of short stories and of novels. But even 
then I didn t begin to write fiction. 

Hiess: You say the literary line was easier for you than the 
scientific, it came easier. Yet you must have had 
to work very hard for a man like Copeland. 

Lehman: Well, you know that line of Shakespeare s: "To the 
labor that we love we rise betimes" (meaning early) 
"and go to it with delight." I didn t have any sense 
of labor about it. 

Other Teaching Personalities 

Riess: Were there other professors at Harvard that you 

Lehman: Between 190? and 1911 there was, in addition to 
these we ve mentioned, Bliss Perry, who had been 


Lehman: editor of the Atlantic Monthly and continued, at the 
beginning of that time, to be editor, but had also 
accepted a professorship at Harvard. Prom my fresh 
man year on he was a personality that had a great 
deal of influence on me mild, humorous, penetrating, 
forthright, without any violence of opinion, an 
utterly charming man. Unacademic in many ways 
[laughing], he had, nonetheless, a true feeling for 
what were not only literary values but values of the 
mind and the spirit, and I think that he balanced 
some of these other people who were a little insis 
tently academic, or perhaps a little too exclusively 
Intellectual. In any case, in my freshman course in 
literature he came in at the end they all took a 
place in that course and my relation with him con 
tinued from that time by my taking courses as an 
undergraduate, and when I went back to Harvard to 
write my doctoral dissertation in 191? I went to him 
with my subject on Carlyle s theory of the hero, from 
which I made the book later, and he was the director 
of that dissertation. No director could have been 
more easy; he read, suggested, approved, never dis 
approved, let you make your own book. 

Riesst In a good way. 

Lehman: Entirely in a good way. So that was Bliss Perry. 

Royce I ve spoken of, and Santayana I ve spoken of, 
and Kittredge. And Copeland, who was notable as a 
somewhat irascible personality and who did draw into 
his writing course the most stimulating young 
undergraduate that is people, and as I say, there 
were, in the course when I took it, a half dozen or 
eight people all of whom made themselves international 

Bless: It s Interesting to speculate on what he gave, and 
what was latent in that group. 

Lehman: Well, I quoted to you T.S. Eliot s saying that it was 
a course in which he learned absolutely nothing. I 
think I learned a great deal in that course, partly 
because of the conference techniques, partly because 
it was a course in which you heard the essays, and 
sometimes stories and poems, that your contemporaries 
wrote, read back to you and read very well by Copeland, 
Perhaps most of all the stimulation of a course of 
that sort came from your discovery of the quality of 


Lehman: the minds and talents of your contemporaries, a thing 
that you find out by talking with undergraduates, 
but you wouldn t perhaps have talked to that group 
of undergraduates. They were collected there by a 
common Interest, but It was not the kind of common 
Interest that would necessarily have brought us 
together humanly outside the classroom. And It was 
from that that I learned so much. It seemed to me 
a very Informing, a very Instructive, and a very 
stimulating course, that course of Copeland s, 
English 12. 

Later, LeBaron Russell Briggs, in the advanced 
composition course, English 5 presented himself to 
us as a very great human being. Briggs I came to 
know better when I was a graduate student. He was 
the dean of the faculties, he was the president of 
Radcliffe, he was a Yankee of Yankees. When I was 
an undergraduate he had a face as wrinkled as a 
walnut, even though he was not then an old man; he 
wore baggy clothes; his eyelids folded heavily over 
his eyes; when you looked at him, everything seemed 
careless and Improvised about his personality. 
Nothing could have been more casual than the way in 
which he introduced the most profound insights in 
conversation with individuals. Nothing could have 
seemed more accidental and been more skillfully 
planned than the way he planted a piece of advice 
that he thought it was high time you listened to. 
Yet It was always done in this casual way. He was 
perhaps the greatest personality in the Harvard Yard. 

Hiess: Drawing people to his classes? 

Lehman: Yes, and partly the way in which he kept in touch 

with everyone. He had a fantastic memory for names, 
not only to go with faces, but to go with relation 
ships. If he met you after an interval of four or 
five years he asked after everybody that he knew you 
knew. He spun the most elaborate web; his secretary 
once told me that he had upward of five thousand 
Christmas greetings from former students. 

Riess: That s interesting. I think of taciturnity when I 
think of the New England Yankee personality. 

Lehman: He was laconic, but not taciturn. Generous, warm 
hearted, thoughtful, combining the highest responsibility 

Lehmam in policy and administration with domesticity. For 
instance, I met him on the subway once sometime 
around 1918 or 1919 going into the city, to Boston, 
at four In the afternoon. 

"What brings you here, Sir, at this hour?" 

"I m going in to buy the roast for next week. 
We have a butcher in Paneuil Hall." That kind of 

On another occasion I remember his saying, 
"Want to go along with me? I m buying a barrel of 
cranberries." Wholesale provision, you see, for 
the president of Radcllffe. 

It was a curious thing, and I suppose it s true 
everywhere all the time, but the personal side of 
these men gradually developed in my mind. Now this 
may be because I was more than usually aware of 
personality as revealed in small things I think 
that s been a special thing with me all my life. 
As when Mr. Klttredge, when I went to confer with 
him sometimes as an undergraduate, lighted his third 
cigar during the conference, and I laughed at his 
having got so far in so short a time with cigars, 
said, "Oh, that s a sensitive matter under this 
roof; I have said to my daughter, who takes care of 
accounts, The first bill to be paid every month is 
my cigar bill, and no questions asked." 1 "Well," 
he said, "questions are asked." [Laughter] 

Hundreds of small things like that, you see, 
were there. I think probably they always were there 
with every student who came in intermittent touch 
with these men. But then perhaps most people weren t 
struck by them; I was much struck by them. 

Riess: You seemed willing to meet these men. Perhaps that 
was pretty threatening to most students. 

Lehman: Well they were very human really, if by chance one 
went beyond, in relation, the mere classroom thing. 
Yet there was very little social life between teacher 
and students. Occasionally at Brooks House, which 
was sort of a Y.M.C.A. special thing, unconnected 
with a church but having the kind of church endeavor 
about it, sometimes there one ran into people of the 

Lehman: facility, there was that social touch. But asking 
students In to tea was a not common practice; It 
happened occasionally. And sometimes with people 
like William Henry Schofleld, the medievalist, who 
had married an enormously wealthy woman, a widow, 
there would be Thanksgiving Dinner for forty or 
something of that sort, simply asked from the classes 
if they didn t go hone for Thanksgiving to come up, 
give their names, and Join the Schofields. But 
there was very little of that. 

The kind of thing that was commonplace in the 
western universities, both at Idaho and Washington 
on the one hand, and California where you went to 
the fraternities as a faculty member, was not common 
at Harvard, except of course that the faculty members 
came to the Phi Beta Kappa weekly dinner. But that 
only involved you after you were in Phi Beta Kappa 
and you couldn t be in Phi Beta Kappa at best until 
you were a Junior; there were only eight Juniors 
chosen and sixteen seniors, so that there were always, 
theoretically, twenty-four Phi Beta Kappa members, and 
usually four to six members of the faculty came to 
dine at the Phi Beta Kappa dinners which were held, 
as I remember it, once a fortnight and were endowed 
(someone had left an endowment to make possible 
these gatherings of Phi Beta Kappa at intervals). 

Riess: When were you elected? 
Lehman: In my Junior year, I think. 

The initiation into Phi Beta Kappa was a strange 
one. You were invited, at least in those days, after 
you were elected, to a dinner. At that dinner you 
were given a topic to speak on, and the topic was 
announced and you got on your feet and you were 
expected to speak for five minutes. I, who have 
never been tongue-tied in my life, was absolutely 
flabbergasted, so that I can t now remember what the 
topic was, but I got on my feet and couldn t get going. 
Yet I had to stand there for the five minutes Just the 
same. [Laughing] I remember meeting the president 
of Phi Beta Kappa in the Harvard Yard the next day 
and saying how sorry I was that I hadn t been up to 
the occasion, and he said, "Well, never mind, Lehman"-- 
he being a whole year older than I "never mind, 
Lehman, there are plenty of men with brains who have 


Lehman: careers who can t speak in public, H [Laughter] 

Riess: Did you take any course in psychology, or come to 
it through philosophy studies? 

Lehman: No. I heard about it. I heard something, even in 
those days, of Freud, as an undergraduate. Mere 
mention. Hugo Mflnsterberg was there, and he gave 
courses. What the content was I haven t the least 
idea; I didn t know anyone who took them, or at least 
I don t now remember any report. 

He did gather in students for certain experiments 
and I remember once being invited to come, and now 
I can t remember exactly, but it seems to me that 
what I did was to sit in a room filled with red light 
and answer questions that were asked I suppose I 
was called to his attention by one of my teachers in 
the literature field, because they were literary 
questions and they kept tab of how quick the 
responses were. Then the next day I went and the 
room was full of blue light and I answered another 
series of questions. Maybe the third day it was 
green light. [Laughter] Some preposterousness like 
that, and I never heard what came of it. Of course 
Hugo Mflnsterburg was quite an eminence between 190? 
and 1911. That eminence was perhaps falsely qualified 
at the time of the war because he was so pro-German. 
But I didn t take any psychology. 

Under the elective system of course I practically 
didn t educate myself, Just studied what I liked, 
learned Italian and read Dante and Petrarch, that 
kind of extension of the English literary studies. 
The interest in economics and in political science 
all was developed and fed later; I talked about 
those things but knew nothing of them and was not 
informed. I should have taken courses in government 
with Lowell, you see, which was what political science 
was then called, and in economics, but did not. 

Riess: So in your talk with your friends, Freud s theories 
and ideas wouldn t have been a topic much? 

Lehman: Well, philosophical ideas, aesthetic ideas, litera 
tures psychology in the sense that you talked about 
people to understand them, to describe how they seemed 
to you, what made them tick, all this flowed in 


Lehman: ultimately to fiction and human relations. I think 
we were especially personality-haunted, and I think 
I more than most of the men I knew. A sense of what 
a human being was, with all his characteristic marks 
upon him, with all his vital thrusts within him, and 
the way in which he did spin a web with his environ 
ment, these were the things that were of Interest 
and they remain, after 70 years, still a major 
interest. [Laughing] Sixty years I better not 
add too manyl 

Riess: I guess I thought with your interests the new knowl 
edge that Freud was bringing in his lectures might 
have been particularly striking. 

Lehman: I m sure that Santayana, with his wide reading and 
great awareness of what was going on, must at one 
time or another, perhaps without any reference, got 
these things in. And the enormous congeniality that 
I felt perhaps arose from that. 

The Class of 1911 

Hiess: These people who turned up in Who s Who, the members 
of Copeland s class, did you think, listening to 
them and to their papers at the time, that they would 
amount to something, that they had the potential? 

Lehman i The people who impressed me most of that group were 
Walter Li ppmann, and Conrad Alken, and J.T. Addison, 
who did very little, really, and Kenneth Macgowan. 
Macgowan did a great deal both as writer, theater 
specialist, director of theater along with O Neill 
(he has an important place in the O Neill biography), 
as a director and producer in the movies, and finally 
as the creator of the department of dramatic art at 
U.C.L.A. He was closest to me in terms of friendship, 
as an undergraduate, of any of these people in the 
writing course, so we were tied together lifelong 
through that, through the interest in theater, and 
finally through being on the same faculty though on 
different campuses of the University of California. 

Hiess: These were the striking talents. 


Lehman i They are the ones that seemed to me to be, yes. Of 
course, I knew nothing about projecting people s 
notability, their "who s-whoness. " 

Hiess: There is something interesting about these years 

here at California, and at Harvard, 1912 in particular, 
which produced such a remarkable array of imoortant 

Lehman: Yes, 1912 and some of these people were in 1912, 
though I was in 1911* and some were in 1910 that 
was a period of a great many sharp projections. Here 
Earl Warren and Robert Gordon Sproul and others. It 
would be interesting to see if there were something 
In the stars, or whatever, by checking other univer 
sities, too. Of course, it may only be the place we 
are in time; ten years hence it may look like 1921, 
1922 are the great years. 

Rless: Your friends at Harvard, was it a writing crowd, or 
a club crowd, or what? 

Lehman: I would think the common denominator, now that I 
look back, was talk. The people who could talk 
amusingly, what I then regarded as penetratingly, 
they were the people. 

As it happened, four of these who were my good 
undergraduate friends I say that with a kind of 
misgiving, too, because life taught me that you make 
very good undergraduate friends and don t carry them 
through life necessarily but the four undergraduate 
friends had in common a fate that had nothing to do 
with their personal qualities. Within a couple of 
years of graduation all four of them were dead. 

George Barnum Hoyt, son of a literary man who 
was editor of a professional periodical called 
Stone and who was my roommate for a year, died at 
Saranao of tuberculosis, I think in 1914. Phil 
Snedeker, a very promising, and to me a very 
stimulating fellow, was given a trip around the world 
by an uncle for a graduation present and died of some 
tropical disease in Borneo, on the trip. Will Hunt, 
who developed a specialty in astronomy and went to 
be assistant astronomer in Brazil or some place of 
that sort, was drowned while swimming on his way to 
his post within a few months of graduation. Paul 


Lehman: Marriott, who was a good poet, and the most gifted, 
we all thought, of our class, couldn t come to 
commencement; he was In the hospital with cancer 
and died a few weeks after graduation. 

Now this Is a curious thing. It has nothing 
to do with endowment, but It seemed a kind of destiny 
pattern. These were four of the people that I walked 
and talked with most, or dropped In on frequently. 
And then an occasional long talk with Llppmann, more 
frequent long talks with Kenneth Macgowan. These 
men all were literate and articulate, but they had 
a great variety of Interests: Snedeker was going 
Into business, Hunt was going Into astronomy, Hoyt 
was going Into the Episcopal ministry, Paul Marriott 
hoped to be a literary man. It was he, not Conrad 
Alken or T.S. Eliot, of the collegiate population In 
those days, It was he that we all thought had the 
gift and It may be that he had. 

Rless: Where did you live In your undergraduate years? 

Lehman: I lived first In Perkins Hall, for two years, down 
on Oxford Street, outside the Yard. My Junior year 
I came Into the Yard and lived In one of the Yard 
dormitories, and then I moved Into a different one 
In my senior year. My senior year I worked very 
hard, and lived alone, by choice, on the fifth floor, 
with no elevator, so fewer people would drop In. 
That left me free to write the original essay on 
Carlyle s theory of the hero which won the Bowdoln 
Prize that year and then opened up, six years later, 
In my mind, the subject that became the dissertation 
and ultimately the book. It was, I think, the first 
history of an Idea offered for a doctorate in an 
American university. It may have been the first 
book published that dealt with the history of an 
Idea as such, well before The Great Chain of Being 
and those books. 

fliess: That seems amazing, somehow. 

Lehman: Well, it s so much in the air now, in later decades 
and I m not sure, I never made a check, but that Is 
the impression I have. 


Cambridge and the World 

Riess: Did you and your friends follow events in the Boston 
area, and go out to things? 

Lehman No, it was notable that we didn t. That was a very 

different world I suppose it was in every university, 
One regarded oneself as being in a backwater, that 
the past was the thing you got up on; what was 
called contemporary literature was not taught in 
courses. We paid no attention, except perhaps for 
some Conrad books, to anything that was being 
published then; we were reading the works of the 
past, we were studying the history of the past. We 
weren t really concerned about what was going on 
politically. The earliest thing that I have any 
awareness of now in recollection was the police 
strike and Calvin Coolidge, when I was in graduate 

But we didn t take a newspaper Walter Lippmann 
did, but no one else I knew; Walter Lippmann had the 
Times we had the Harvard Crimson, but the Harvard 
Crimson didn t give contemporary events any play. 
It was Intramural predominantly. We were aware that 
in 1908 there was an election, but I wasn t old 
enough to vote and I took no real interest In it. 
I was conscious of the Roosevelt-Taft split, people 
talked a little about it, but it was not a main 
concern the way it would be with undergraduates 

Hiess: And concerts and lectures, did you expose yourself 
to them sort of assiduously? 

Lehman: I m glad you speak of that because I had it in mind. 
To be In Boston between 190? and 1911 was to be in 
the neighborhood of some extraordinary educative 
factors. There were, first of all, architectural 
items: the Richardson Episcopal Church in Conley 
Square; the beautiful Boston Public Library; 
University Hall, of which Bullfinch was the architect 
in the Harvard Yard; the old pre- Civil War and even 
18th century houses In Loulsburg Square in Boston; 
Mrs. Gardner s "Palace"; and the fine early buildings 
at Harvard. That, plus, of course, all the early 


Lehman: houses maintained in those days still in Lexington 
and Concord and in Salem. 

Then there was the contents of the museums, 
which we sought out. I went a great deal, to look 
at the Oriental collection particularly, but at 
all good things in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. 
And I came early as an undergraduate to Mrs. 
Gardner s the only way you could really see those 
things was to go as an usher, and this was arranged 
for me because she had Harvard students when she 
opened the collection for, I think, ten days, for 
tax purposes. She had one Harvard student assigned 
to each room, and if you went often enough you would 
get through most of the collection, and you were 
allowed to look, provided you didn t leave that 
room. You had an early glimpse, too, of Mrs. 
Gardner, which was of a different order of events, 
but also an experience. 

Hi ess: I don t know about Mrs. Gardner. 

Lehman: She s the Mrs. Gardner who s in Aline Saarinen s 
Proud Possessors. Mrs. Jack Gardner the greatest 
private collection, I suppose, of the century. Now 
it s open to the public, with a high endowment. 
It s called the Fenway Palace, an imitation, or a 
development of the structures of the Venetian 
palaces, on the Fenway, in Boston. She was a New 
Yorker, Isabella Stewart, and with the help of 
Bernard Berenson, but largely because of her own 
amazing talent for these things, with not very 
great wealth she built up this superb collection. 

So, there was the Boston Museum, the Fenway 
Palace, and then you hardly went anywhere without 
seeing a Copley, for instance or Copley, as some 
people say and people had enormous numbers of 
Stuarts and Copleys and all those things so that 
you were perpetually in the presence of good nainting, 
and occasionally good sculpture. That was before 
Harvard had built up a museum, in the days of the 
original little Fogg Art Museum, where there were a 
few good things. That was the time when John Singer 
Sargent was perhaps a little past the height of his 
career, but he had painted the Frieze of the Prophets 
in the Boston Public Library, and the public library s 

Lehman: great stairway had those great canvasses by Puvls 

de Chavannes. So there were architectural experiences, 
there were experiences in the plastic arts, and of 
course there was the best and the most easily acces 
sible musical experience, with the Symphony Orchestra. 

In those days the "gallery," which was really 
the balcony, of the Symphony Hall, was open to 
anyone who could get in, for 25 cents. Well, 25 cents 
I suppose was a dollar and a half or a dollar and a 
quarter in our money, but we all had that. Even on 
pretty cold days, we used to take a book or two, and 
if it was very, very cold, take an extra coat, and 
fold it up so we could sit on the steps and get in 
line there four or five hours before the doors were 
open. I ve forgotten how many could be seated in 
the balcony, but if you were one beyond in the seating 
then you didn t get in. We went, particularly George 
Hoyt and I, Friday after Friday to the afternoon 
concert. Karl Muck, the great German conductor, was 
there; in later years, after the war confusions had 
thrown Muck out perhaps as a German spy, but certainly 
as a German then Pierre Monteux came, and I heard 
Pierre Monteux in his first years there when I was 
back at graduate school. 

Then there were a great many concerts, and it 
was the day when theater went around the country, 
and we would see some things in stock at the Castle 
Square Garden Shakespeare, the Russians, and such 
but chiefly made a point of getting to see Mrs. Fiske, 
who was then in her prime, Julia Marlowe and Edward 
H. Sothern. The classics were much played. We were 
a naive audience, I think, because certainly Julia 
Marlowe was a middle-aged woman, or close to middle 
age, and yet she played Viola, you see, in a little 
boy s costume, and she played Juliet still. 

Riess: Did programs come to the campus? 

Lehman: No, there was very little. There was a play or two 
every year given by one of the fraternities, an 
Elizabethan play. But no, things weren t brought 
to the campus. Mrs. Fisk, I remember, gave a lecture 
in Saunder*s Theater once. But the people who came 
from the outer world to lecture on campus, and there 
was always something going, were people like Godkin, 


Lehman: the editor of the New York Nation, which was then 

fairly conservative Journal, notable personalities 
Bryan came once to address the undergraduates 
distinguished scholars from other parts of the 
world, sometimes as far West as Chicago [laughing], 
sometimes as far East as London, or even Berlin. 
And there was a German exchange nrof essorship when 
I was an undergraduate, before the First World War. 
Men like Barrett Wendell went to Paris. I ve for 
gotten who went to Berlin on these exchanges. And 
men like Legouis and Cestre came from Paris, and 
Kflhnemann came from Berlin. They gave courses in 
literature. Sometimes, as in the case of Cestre, 
in English as well as French, in the case of 
Kflhnemann all in German, as I remember it, and I 
have the impression I went to hear all his lectures. 
In retrospect they seem all to have been about the 
19th century German painters, like Arnold Bflcklin. 
It was not a world in which the outer world and the 
academic world were brought vitally together. 

Riessz Was Oriental art Just being introduced to the country 
when you went to see it? 

Lehman: I think the first important collection was made there 
in Boston. If I ever knew, I ve forgotten how it 
came to be there, what started it, but it may have 
been the trade with China going way back that brought 
these things in. But it was an important early 
collection and it was very Invitingly displayed. I 
understand that in later years it s been immensely 
augmented. But it was then sufficient in quantity 
and variety and though I m no Judge of these things-- 
in excellence, I think, so that you were able to get 
from it an impression of what the Oriental psyche 
and spirit was like. And certainly I remember that 
when, some years later, in the twenties, I read 
Laurence Binyon s Spirit of Man in Asian Art I felt 
that I had seen enough so that I knew what he was 
talking about. 

Riess: Were you attracted by it? 

Lehman: Oh, very much, more then than ever since. I ve 

never had, in later years, the kind of full response 
that I then had. Partly, I guess, because the works 
that go on exhibition now are elaborations of the 
central thing they bring in additional excellences 

Lehman t that I m Just not geared to take in. I did, however, 
back a decade or so, go to Seattle for four or five 
days to see the great Japanese collection. It didn t 
come to San Francisco; it went to Chicago, Washington 
and New York; but it didn t come to San Francisco, 
we then heard because not all Asians were courteously 
treated during the organization meetings for the U.N. 
In any case, it was quite wonderful. That seems to 
have given me the kind of experience that I had in 
the much smaller and probably less notable showings. 

fliess: And the spirit and psyche attracted you. 

Lehman: Yes, it does. But some of the elaborations of the 
Asian spirit which you see in, for instance, the 
exhibition from India that was just in San Francisco, 
leave me cold as far as response goes, but interest 
me immensely. I m Interested in the ingenuities 
which go into the design of the innumerable medallion 
structures, into the preoccupation with the human 
body in its grosser aspects. This interests me as 
a manifestation of a racial psyche, but I don t have 
any sense that I m in the presence of great experience, 
And it may be come to think of it that those early 
long visits to the museum in Boston had something to 
do with my interest in the 1920s in developing the 
Asian collections in the University Library when I 
was chairman of the Library Committee, setting the 
earliest pattern of library collections for the 
Pacific Basin. Perhacs the old Boston looking at 
these things left some residue and had some influence. 

Of course, I ought to add that there was through 
that period everywhere a much fresher sense than I 
think one has nowadays of Colonial history, and of 
New England Colonial history. It s too easy now, 
I find, when I m in Boston, to dash from one ure- 
Revolutionary monument to another [laughing]. We 
used to make some effort of excursion, and in 
preliminary talk or some reading get ourselves ready 
for Concord or for Lexington or for Salem, or even 
for Plymouth. I think the easiness of access of the 
day of the motorcar has made all that less impactful 
than it was. 



Riess: What were your plans after graduation? 

Lehman: Well, I wasn t sure what I was going to do. There 
was, of course, an economlo factor in there because 
the abundance of our resources at the beginning had 
dwindled, and I had four Junior siblings, all of 
whom were on their way to college or already in 

Hless: And they went to Pennsylvania? 

Lehman: Yes, all of them. The elder of my two sisters later 
did graduate work at Columbia. In any case, there 
were two brothers and two sisters who had to go on, 
and I wasn t absolutely sure what I wanted to do, 
and since as I now look back, I think to keet> five 
people in college was something of a strain, the 
idea was that I would be sure before I went back 
for graduate work. 

Riess: Did your professors at Harvard urge you to go into 
graduate work? 

Lehman: No, I didn t consult anyone. I was Invited back to 
my prep school to teach, and within a week of that 
moment, was invited to go to Idaho. And I remember 
going to talk to Barrett Wendell, who was my adviser, 
about it, and he said, M 0h, go West and grow up with 
the country!" [Laughter] 

When Barrett Wendell urged going West, he didn t 
say, "Why do you want to teach?" He was a wealthy 
man who wanted to teach or had taught, one of those 
professors at Harvard that never accepted his salary, 
always endorsed it back to the university. 

So, I came out to Idaho to teach and for three 
years I taught at the University of Idaho, and three 
years at Washington State College, during which I met 
interesting people. I want to emphasize that the Bay 
Area isn t alone in this respect. It occurs to me 
perhaps that whether you see Interesting people 

wherever you are is a matter of what your interests 
are. If you like personality and are not fearful of 


Lehman: being overwhelmed In conversation, you meet neople. 
I remember one week in Washington State College 
when I spent one evening with Hoffmann, the tdanist, 
the evening before he played, and later in the week 
I spent an evening with Helen Keller and Miss 
Sullivan. I think perhaps this is always available 
in America, it s Just a question of whether you re 
interested. And I suppose it may sound fatuous to 
say it--it depends on whether you can carry your 
share of it. You re supposed to sing for your 
supper when you go to these parties. 

There were many talented figures from the Idaho 
days. Minnie M. Brashear I think she s still living, 
well in her nineties was then deeply Interested in 
Mark Twain, before any academic person much was, and 
in these later years she published a half dozen or 
eight works about him. She was a woman of great 
charm, a spinster who, around 1912, 1913, 1914, had 
the kind of freedom of mind and utterance, with a 
great deal of humor in it, which you expect now in 
spinsters [laughter], but didn t in those days. A 
delightful human being. She was at the University 
of Idaho when I was there and moved into service in 
the scholarly critical world. 

Then Edward Maslin Hume was there, an excellent 
teacher and historian, teaching Renaissance and 
Medieval history, and he later came down to Stanford 
as professor in those fields. 

Rless: Were these people Idaho products? 

Lehman: Oh no, Minnie Brashear came from Missouri, had 

graduated, I think, from the University of Missouri 
and had done graduate work in the East. Edward 
Maslin Hume had done his undergraduate and graduate 
work at Stanford. 

Perhaps the most distinguished of all the people 
I knew at Idaho was the great bridge engineer, David 
B. Steinman, one of the greatest bridge engineers in 
history. He was assistant professor of civil 
engineering. Whether he was dreaming then of becom 
ing the great bridge designer of modern times, I 
don t know a man who became major news in Time and 


Lehman: Then there was Gustus L. Larson, a Scandinavian, 
though, I think, born in Idaho, a great football 
player, who became professor of mechanical engineer 
ing at Idaho, and then went on to be professor of 
mechanical engineering, with a very distinguished 
career, at the University of Wisconsin. 

In addition to these people, who had note 
worthy national and International renowns in later 
times, there were a great many people interesting 
in and for themselves. What is always so corrosive 
to me in this kind of account of things is that you 
concentrate on the names, whereas what would be 
tempting in a true reminiscence would be to bring 
to life people who are heads without names in the 
great world, but were notable personalities. 

There was a wonderful Irishwoman, named Permeal 
French, an enormously obese woman, at the University 
of Idaho (and I offer her simply as a sample of 
these heads without names), who was dean of women, 
the best ballroom dancer ever I stood opposite, with 
her enormous bulk, a vivid, Irish wit and laughter 
a woman of a conventional stance, such as the dean 
Of women in those days should and would have taken, 
terribly amused at the whole thing, the predicament 
that she was in, the problem of watching all these 
girls, and both appalled and hilarious at the table 
manners, particularly of the boys who came up from 
the ranches and gathered round the tables in the 
fraternity houses. She used to go and lunch with 
them once a month in each fraternity house and look 
round the table and tell them what was what, and 
then, of course, came away with the most delightful 
accounts, in the Irish mode, of what had happened. 
I remember terribly amusing accounts of how the boys 
got rid of the cherry pits in the dessert. 

There was never a dull moment there, and there 
was a great deal of dancing, with every weekend 
some fraternity or sorority giving a dance, and the 
military ball each year, and one was oneself young 
and did all these things, and It was perfectly 
delightful. The same thing was true at Washington 
State College. 

Riess: Were the students fun? 


Lehman: Oh, the students were good, and interesting. You 

have in class at the same time in different classes 
brilliant people, like Patterson Greeny who became 
the dramatist and the music critic who is now in 
Los Angeles doing both those things so well (Greene 
died in January 1968. See San Francisco Examiner 
and Los Angeles Times for obituary); MacKinley Helm, 
the historian and critic of art, and fiction writer, 
who lately died in Santa Barbara; Donald K. David, 
chairman of the board of the Ford Foundation, once 
dean of the graduate school of business administra 
tion at Harvard, who really created the modern 
business school, my friend now since he was in my 
class in 1910, 1911, over fifty years; and then 
Gladys Lehman. And there were others, wonderful 

Riess: What were you teaching? 

Lehman: I went to teach English in the college of the 

University of Idaho at Moscow, but I also taught 
one senior English course in the state preparatory 
school which was at Moscow as part of the university 
because most of the state in those days didn t have 
high schools, didn t have the fourth year, so students 
came up to Moscow to take the fourth year. Then that 
didn t fill up my time, so I also taught in the pre 
paratory school the senior Latin course, Virgil. I 
began that way, and then they were phasing out the 
state preparatory school so in my last year I taught 
all college English. I taught a course in Carlyle 
and Rusk in and a course in reading poetry, and then 
freshman and advanced composition. 

Riess: Then why did you go on to Washington State, and what 
did you teach there? 

Lehman: Well, I got into trouble at Idaho. The head of the 
department there was a woman and she allowed me to 
teach the course in Carlyle and Ruskln and then it 
become the most attractive course in the department, 
and she said she would teach it the next year. I 
protested, and the result of that was that she had 
an interview with the president and then I had an 
Interview with the president, and I said I would not 
give that course up, that I developed it and she 
knew nothing about the subject. 


Lehman: The end of that was that I don t know whether I was 
fired or whether I resigned, but in any case, it was 
late in the year, it was June, so I went over to 
Pullman to talk to Bruce McCully, whom I had met and 
admired, and asked his advice: "Should I go back to 
graduate school next year?" 

And after we d talked for a half an hour he 
said, "Well, if you re not sure you want to go back 
to graduate school why don t you come here and teach 
for a year?" So I did. I was married later that 
year and stayed two years before I went back. 

At Washington State College was Bruce McCully, 
who later became head of English at Pomona; there 
was Elliott Lincoln, who went down to become 
professor of English at Pomona a couple of years 
later; there was a man named Cornelson, who was very 
good, who went back I think to teach in one of the 
Carolines, one of the universities there. And there 
were other excellent people. It was also a stimulating 
world, full of charming people who didn t make them 
selves names, like Alice Patterson, who was assistant 
professor of chemistry, a charming and gifted Scots 
woman, very ugly and very charming. 

In the last of the Idaho years I met Gladys 
Collins, who was one of the brilliant students there. 
We were married the next year. 

It was only after marriage, and the shaking 
down of our vision of a common life, that I decided 
to go back to graduate school, and so, at the end of 
six years of teaching I did. Then my elder son, Hal 
Lehman, who now lives in Lido Isle, Newport Beach, 
was born, when I was in graduate school. (Another 
son was born at the end of the graduate school 
period he died very young.) That made a homogeneous 
and naturally evolving unit, you see. It had nothing 
to do with, "Well, now let s do this, and then let s" 
do that." You sort of took the next step. It was 
a period of inquiry, as much as anything else, inouiry 
into what life held. 

Gladys Collins had a great deal to do with my 
coming to California because she wanted so much to 
be nearer the motion picture business. Prom very 
early on, before we were married, she had the intuition 

Lehman: that she could write for the movies. And of course 
she became one of the most successful of the writers 
for motion pictures. 


Lehman: When I went back to graduate school in 1917 I went 

back to study, but in six weeks there was a shortage 
of staff, owing to some preparation for war, and I 
was given an assistantship not a teaching assistant- 
ship which put me in charge of the English 28, which 
had meant so much to me a decade earlier. 

Then the war effort got more and more deep you 
see, I had gone back in 191? right at the wrong 
time and I was drawn into the War Issues Lectures. 
Woodrow Wilson had the idea that the men in the 
armed forces should know what they were fighting 
about. And under McLaren, who, I think, was president 
of M.I.T. in those days, the New England section of 
War Issues Lectures was set up. 

I can t remember now by what steps I came to be 
involved in that, but I lectured on the War Issues 
staff from some time shortly after the draft was 
started. I lectured at Camp Wentworth out in 
Brookline, and at Camp Devens, so that for the years 
191? to 1920 I had a very full program. I had a 
family life of sorts, but largely qualified by the 
fact that I was teaching as an assistant full time 
at Harvard, that I was lecturing on War Issues full 
time at Devens and Wentworth into 1919* and that in 
three years I wrote a dissertation and took the 
enormous number of linguistics courses that were 
then required for a Ph.D. 

You didn t get a Ph.D. at Harvard in those days 
with courses in literature; you got it with courses 
in Old Norse, Gothic, Old English ( called Anglo-Saxon), 
and Old French. You presented Latin and Greek, and 
Old High German, Old Norse, Gothic, Anglo-Saxon, 
Middle English, and Old French. And when you went in 
for your oral, the last fifteen minutes was about 
literature; all the rest was philology. 

Riess: Sounds impossible. Fuller than full time. 

Lehman: Well, it s a question of how fast your mind is in 
reading and organizing material, and how naturally 

Lehman: you fill It in when you get on the platform. If 
you re a teacher at a university, you teach nine 
and sometimes only six hours, but It s called full 
time. But in this case, I think I must have given 
twelve lectures a week in the War Issues Lectures, 
in addition to perhaps eight or nine hours of teach 
ing at Harvard. Each of these programs had a full 
salary attached to It, so I thought of them as full 
time because they were fully paid. 

The War Issues business was managed, I think, 
by George Creel, who afterwards married Blanche 
Bates and lived in San Francisco; I think he was in 
charge, or partially in charge, in Washington. In 
any case, they sent out pamphlets, and leaflet 
literature, and by that time, of course, I had begun 
reading the papers [laughing], and the weeklies, and 
had ideas of my own. You were expected to explain 
to people who were often Illiterate, or not very 
literate, what was the difference between consolida 
tion of national areas and extension, which might 
invade other areas. All of this had to be explained. 

The way it operated was that you were appointed 
to these Jobs, told "this is the normal layout of 
the course, here are the materials plus whatever you 
have in your own head," and the men came in, sometimes 
as few as eighty or ninety at Camp Wentworth, and 
sometimes as many as a thousand or so at Devens. My 
first experience with the enormous lecture audience 
was up there, and there was plenty more of it in later 
years here. Then they sent from McLaren s office, 
the central office, an inspector, who would sit in the 
audience (you wouldn t know he was there, unless you 
noticed an older man and got onto the fact), and he 
would come up afterwards and make suggestions, or 
sometimes he came up and said, "Just keep on doing 
that, that s very fine." Sometimes he would say, 
"I think you need more of this." All of that was 
helpful in the matter of handling an audience. It 
was done by lecture with fifteen minutes of discussion 
at the end of the hour, and you got some stumping 
questions, I remember. 

Riess: You didn t get into the Army because of the heart 

Lehman: Oh, that seemed to have been outgrown. No, I in the 
first place I was put in a special class because I 

Lehman: was married, and then in the course of a few months 
there was a baby, and then being In the War Issues 
automatically exempted me. Woodrow Wilson regarded 
this as more Important than Just being another clerk 

I was very glad I wasn t In the Armed Forces, 
as one of my brothers was, though he didn t go 
overseas. (The other brother was In the science 
forces, and In fact both of them were because the 
other one was put In a laboratory; one was In a 
laboratory without uniform, one with uniform. ) But 
I was glad that I wasn t sent overseas, wasn t In 
the Armed Forces as a shooting man, because of my 
mother s German birth and the fact that her older 
sister had eight or nine sons In the armed forces on 
the German side, so this would have been a deep agony 
to her. Certainly I would have gone If that had been 
the Indicated thing. We were, and she was, more anti- 
German than any normal American would be; we felt the 
threat In the German thrusts, psychological business, 
understood It better. After all, my father s father 
had come In the forties from Germany because of the 
way the German psyche was building up In that genera 
tion. My mother and her brothers had left for the 
same reason thirty-five or forty years later. 

Rless: So there was no ambivalence about the war Itself. 

Lehman: Well, there was psychological, but none of that 

critical ambivalence that would have been attached 
to being In the trenches, though I suppose It would 
have been easy enough to rise above that when the 
time came. 

Rless: Were you doing much writing In those years? 

Lehman: No, none. Oh, If somebody dies and you are appointed 
to the committee to write the memorial, that sort of 
thing I did. 

Rless: Were you thinking, when you were In Idaho and 

Washington, In terms of publication and getting 
ahead academically? 

Lehman: At that stage I wasn t, and I don t think I ever 

thought about It In any formal ambition-pattern way. 
I was doing things I liked, I was In places I enjoyed, 

Lehman: I can remember once or twice when I was an Instructor, 
at the age of 21 or 22, with an A.B. degree, looking 
at the roster, and seeing a man s name, "Professor of 
German, and Dean of the College," and then seeing him 
on the campus and thinking, "I guess he s in his 
forties." No, I put one foot In front of another. 
I was doing what I liked, I never had any sense of 
getting there. When I came to the University of 
California,! had already had an appointment to the 
Harvard faculty, and Walter Morris Hart, who was 
inviting me, could only offer an assistant professor 
ship at $2700. Harvard was paying me $3000 and I 
said I wouldn t go for less. Well, he managed to 
get that extra $300. And maybe that s ambition, but 
I don t think It was, it was Just a matter of having 
a wife and a couple of children, and needing more 
money. I remember asking Hart also whether the 
University ever made any allowances for transportation, 
and he won my heart completely by saying, with a laugh, 
"We do sometimes for deans and full professors and 
other people who don t need It." 

Then I came here, and at the end of two years 
I went abroad for a year without salary because I 
wanted to look and see how the career was satisfying 
me, and in that year, while I was abroad, I wrote a 
novel and some stories. When I came back (because I 
did have leave, though without salary), I stayed on 
another year and then took a sabbatical, after one 
year, and I still wasn t thinking about a career. 
Then when I came back W.H. Durham was chairman of 
the department and without my knowing anything about 
it I had by that time two books in print and. one in 
press and a half-dozen learned articles out, which 
I had only written because these were things I was 
interested in suddenly, first thing I knew I was 
reviewed and promoted to professor. Well, I was very 
young. I was glad to be there, glad to have the 
income, but I don t think I made anything of it. By 
that time I didn t have to have any concern about 
income, though you can always use it, especially if 
you like 

Riess: Was this because your family fortunes had changed? 

Lehman: Oh, things had gone back right, you know. They do 
after a while. 


Pry: You came out to California about 1920? 
Lehman: That s right. 

Pry: You had lived in many places in the world, how did 
you find California as a place to live? 

Lehman: Well, when I think about it at that time, I remember 
first of all that the Harvard men, except Barrett 
Wendell, on whom I had turned my back by declining 
a teaching position at Harvard and coming to 
California, had prophesied a desert and a wilderness 
on the West Coast. It strikes me at once, of course, 
that California in the twenties and thirties was any 
thing but a wilderness. Indeed, in recapitulation 
it now comes over me that the opportunities of con 
tact with vivid people, people of accomplishment, 
and people of aspiration, were far more here than 
they would ever have been for me in Cambridge, 
Massachusetts. I was quite ready for this, and I 
found it enormously engaging. 

Pry: Was this because there weren t as many people around 
in California? 

Lehman: It was partly that, no doubt; there was less competi 
tion to be at the dinner tables than there would 
have been in Cambridge. But there were other factors, 
too. I had incomparably good luck in a succession 
of introductions and developing relations. For 
example, Walter Morris Hart, who was presently to be 
vice-president of the University but who was in 1920 
Dean of the Summer Sessions and chairman of the 
Department of English, and who had invited me in May 
of 1920 to come to California, offered me hospitality 
in his house. It stood where International House 
now stands, and he introduced me to all the more 
vivid persons who were on the faculty of the University, 

Marion Randall Parsons* 

Lehman: A second center of contacts was the home of Marlon 
Randall Parsons. In 1920 it was a problem to find 
housing, and someone I think It was Mrs. Chauncey 
Wells meeting me on the street one day when I was 
In quest of housing for my family, who had not yet 
arrived, told me that Mrs. Parsons, who was just 
back from Europe, wished to share her house on 
Mosswood Road, looking down on Strawberry Canyon. 
That house was a charming place in an oak garden, 
a couple of acres, in the far end of which two 
years later she built another house. Its physical 
attractions were so great, and she herself In 
preliminary conference about arrangements so 
charming, that we decided to risk a shared household. 
This was indeed one of the happiest events of our 

Fry: What did your household consist of? 

Lehman: My wife and my son, Hal Lehman. My younger son, 

Collins, had, a few weeks, before died in Idaho, and 
we were only three. So we moved in with Mrs. 
Parsons, and presently we shared everything a 
common cook, a common menage. 

Mrs. Parsons was an early member of the Sierra 
Club, a great friend of John Muir, of William Keith 
the painter, and of all the people who circled 
around those two personalities, and naturally of the 
members of the Sierra Club itself. At her house we 
came to know, and in many cases to become friends 
with, people like Ansel Adams, met the daughter of 
John Muir, the Shafter sisters, and others. This 
was the second center from which our relationships 
in California spread out. 

I ought to add at this point that there were 
special occasions when Mrs. Parsons gathered a few 
people together, for instance to spend an evening 
with Stephen Mather of the National Park System, and 
so on. 

*See Parsons Papers in the Bancroft Library and 
my obituary tribute in the Sierra Club Journal. 

Bertha Pope Damon 

Lehman: There was also in Berkeley in those days the 

divorced wife of a professor of aesthetics named Pope. 
Bertha Pope, now Bertha Damon, was a beautiful and 
vivid nresence, so that she gathered around herself 
people who enjoyed a certain spaciousness of life, 
for she and her first husband had brought the 
electrical display building from the first San 
Francisco fair across the Bay on pontoons, and 
brought it up the hill, and it s still there on 
Woodmont Avenue, opposite the great Durham house. 
In this house she received people who were "going 
through." I remember seeing there up-and-coming 
advertising executives, dancers, literary people, 
and people who were simply interested, and Interesting 
because they were interested in the people they talked 
with. Mrs. Damon spoke so well herself of so many 
things and was so great a wit that we were all 
delighted periodically into really uncontrolled 
laughter. The evidence was clear that she could 
write if she wanted to. 

Many years later when she married Lindsay Damon, 
professor of English In one of the New England colleges, 
and went to live in New Hampshire, she did indeed 
begin to write, and I think the first book was called 
The Sense of Humus, and it was about gardening as 
she practiced it in those days on her fabulous place 
In New Hampshire, but also as she remembered it in 
her growing-up time. I may be wrong about which was 
the first book, for she wrote another book called 
Grandma Called it Carnal. 

Her grandmother was a New England Puritan who 
emerges in the book as a figure highly individual, 
and yet almost a figure of folklore. Grandma called 
everything carnal that other people regarded as a 
normal way of living. Somewhere In the book there s 
an account of how grandmother, coming In from a very 
long walk, a matter of miles, said that she had felt 
hungry, and had gone into the pantry and found a 
dish of cold spinach and commented, "I fell upon the 
spinach in a way that I can call nothing less than 
carnal." [Laughter] 

Lehman: Mrs. Damon had a marvelously humorous and witty way 
of narrating all these things and was, in the 
twenties, and intermittently in later years when 
she came out as Mrs. Damon and spent the winters 
here, a great contribution to our community. She 
was also, as it happened, a friend of Marie Welsh, 
whom I met at Mrs. Damon s place down on the Bay. 
(Mrs. Damon was a re-maker of old houses.) 

Fry: Bertha Pope Damon was also interested in poetry? 

Lehman: Oh, yes, she was. She had poetry evenings when 

people read the poems they wrote, and she sometimes 
wrote witty quatrains herself. They didn t carry 
the real quality of poetry; they were so witty they 
were beyond Jingles, but she didn t go in for the 
wonderful reverberation in sound of words. But 
other people did, and I remember hearing Marie Welsh 
read poems aloud there, and others. 

Bertha Pope also had a real talent for gathering 
people around her, and I having met her through a 
neighbor in Moss wood Road found myself presently 
knowing Oscar Lewis, the biographer and historian, 
In his youth, knowing Albert Bender, patron of the 
arts throughout Northern California, and a friend, of 
figures working in the arts throughout the country. 
As a consequence of that, one found oneself many an 
evening in the course of a year at Albert Bender s 
studio apartment on Post Street, San Francisco, 
talking with Ruth St. Denis, or with Katherine 

Elizabeth Warder Ellis 

Lehman: There was also in those days In Berkeley Mrs. Ralph 
Ellis. She had lived in Washington, D.C., on Long 
Island, and in New York, and in 1922 set up a house 
north of the campus though she still maintained a 
country place on Long Island. She was a woman of 
means and a woman of imagination and of endless 
interest in people. 

Elizabeth Warder Ellis was the daughter of that 
Warder who developed some of the early agricultural 

Lehman: implements. (He sold his interests to International 
Harvester, I think.) Finding himself in mid-life 
wealthy and wishing to be free, he took his three 
beautiful daughters to Washington, where he had a 
special house built so that his daughters might live 
at the center of the national scene. These daughters 
were remarkable women, and two of them were great 
beauties. The oldest, known to us all in later years 
as Ellie Leonard, had been married to Ward Thoron, 
and appears as the young wife of Thoron in the letters 
and autobiographies of George Santayana, whom Thoron 
had known at Harvard. 

The second of the sisters was Elizabeth Ellis. 
She was the companion and friend of Alice Longworth 
and such girls in Washington at the beginning of the 
century, and a warm, gay, spirited, dark-complexioned, 
black-haired beauty. She had gone to Europe with 
Henry Adams as a girl, and is one of the so-called 
nieces referred to in his letters of that European 
Journey. Elizabeth Warder married Ralph Ellis of 
New York, whose father had been a member of the Morgan 
firm, and set up a house on Long Island where in later 
years I was to meet sculptors, writers, and political 
figures of every persuasion and attitude. 

The youngest of the three sisters was Alice 
Warder, who married John Garrett of the Baltimore 
family, and who lived and died at Evergreen House, 
on Charles Street. She was perhaps the most beautiful; 
certainly she was the most Spanish-looking of the three 
sisters. Zuloaga, the Spanish painter, said she was 
the most Spanish woman he had ever seen (though there 
was no known Spanish strain in the family). Mrs. 
Ellis guessed that at some time, many generations 
back, some of the blood of those survivors of the 
Armada who had gone round through the North Sea and 
landed on the Irish coast, had been filtered into the 
Warder stream, or into that of her mother. 

Elizabeth Ellis was warm-hearted, generous, 
appreciative, and wishing to be heard but wishing 
much more to hear, eliciting from t>eople ideas and 
attitudes and providing a small world of good food 
and good drink and good company in which, with a little 
guidance, some of the more striking things would be 
discussed by many minds. She also had a habit of 
bringing people in to offer us some of the arts. She 


Lehman: had a large and charming house, full of Chinese 
objects, and no piano, but if there was a good 
pianist she would have a piano brought in and after 
dinner there would be music. 

I remember one evening at her house on Ridge 
Road, where she invited Marion Stebbins of the Mills 
faculty to read a Shaw play. Sometimes she d bring 
the piano in and Laurence Strauss, the lieder singer, 
with Betty Alexander at the piano, would give us a 
whole evening of song; once her sister, Alice 
Garrett, from Baltimore, with Spanish costumes 
designed by Zuloaga and by Bakst did some Spanish 
dancing for us. (It was twenty years after she 
should have been trying to dance at all, but she did.) 

Pry: Did you meet any poets at her house? 

Lehman: Everybody came there. She had a large household of 
servants. She loved a long lunch table and a long 
dinner table. She Invited everybody, and if you 
said so-and-so was coming to visit you next weekend, 
she took that as a cue and said, "Well, bring them 
to lunch." 

I remember once that Richard Buhlig, the 
American pianist who had such a notable career in 
Europe and came back to America after the Hitler 
threat was great in Austria he went one night to 
the Ellises; she was impressed by him, and when he 
had finished his visit to whomever he was visitlmr, 
she said, "Come and stay here a couple of weeks." 
So he, who was a great talker and who d known 
practically everybody and could talk with great 
exactitude about the world of music, became a 
central figure at lunch and dinner for a fortnight. 
This was the way she lived, and she enlarged all 
our lives by making available once Buhlig, another 
time a political figure, another time some social 
figure, sometimes a princess, or a countess from 

Pry i Could you give us a picture of how she operated as 
a hostess, to give us a picture of Mrs. Ellis? For 
instance, if we went in her door for lunch, what 
would it be like? 


Lehman: It could begin In any one of a number of ways. You 
remember I pointed out to you that she bequeathed 
to the University those Chinese objects that are in 
Dwinelle Hall. (Now removed for safety to the 
Museum of Anthropology after violent thefts.) Well, 
those that are exhibited are about a third of those 
that were bequeathed. In the twenties and later 
in the thirties, after she d been East for seven or 
eight years and then come back, she kept acquiring 
these things. She might start us all off as we 
came in by saying, "I was in Chinatown this morning, 
and look what I found." And then there would be 
an account of how she d gone down into the cellars 
at one of the Japanese or Chinese dealers and said, 
"Take that out of that crate. I want to see it." 

Or again, it would be simply something she had 
read and she would confess to being entirely baffled 
by it, and then everybody would start to explain it 
to himself while explaining it to her [laughter], 
and we d be off. She always gathered articulate 
people about here in sufficient number so that there 
were never dull spaces at table or afterward. 

If there was anybody available, there would be 
an evening of something. She d say, "I heard that 
Durham has read this essay to the English Department 
for a volume of essays and criticism. I asked him 
to come in and read it to us. I don t think the 
faculty should have a monopoly on ideas," she would 
say. Something like that, and always with a great 
deal of shine and with the authority of a woman who 
had been a great beauty, who had from childhood had 
wealth, who had always had position, partly as a 
result of being a close friend of Alice Roosevelt 
Longworth. It s easy to do those things when you re 
on that slightly raised eminence. 

Pry: Did the two sisters of Elizabeth Warder Ellis ever 
come to California? 

Lehman: They came to visit her; they never lived here. Mrs. 
Warder, the mother, and the two sisters came out 
from time to time for a week or a fortnight, and 
one saw them when one went East. The family made a 
friend of any friend of a member of the family, you 
see. I remember wonderful times at Evergreen House, 
going down from Mrs. Ellis *s place on Long Island in 


Lehman: the summers to hear a concert or two by one of the 
great quartets I think the Budapest which was in 
residence in a house in the sixty-acre garden of 
Evergreen House right in the center of Baltimore. 

So there was a general sense of the value of 
what we call the humanities, a general awareness of 
the things that are usually gathered under the word 
"culture," not only in that family but at different 
levels and in different forms, and with different 
focuses, among all of these people I have snoken of. 
For example, in those days Ansel Adams was a 
mountaineer, he was not yet an important photocrranher 
but a notable pianist. Oscar Lewis had as yet 
published no book, but he was an eager and curious 
and ironical commentator upon such facts as he had 
turned up in his reading, which without our knowing 
it was already focused on his great enterprises. 

Albert Bender 

Albert Bender was a fascinating man who gave one 
a sense of more things than Just his Immediate 
environment. He was the son of a rabbi in Ireland 
and he came to America to a cousin or an uncle. He 
was without money, and I remember his telling me 
with the greatest delight that the morning after 
his arrival in San Francisco his uncle, who was, 
I think, in the insurance business, gave him a silver 
dollar and said that he was to explore for the day 
he being as I recall a boy of fourteen. He was to 
take the day and explore his San Francisco environ 
ment, and this money was for lunch or whatever he 
wanted to do with it. Bender, who in complete 
maturity was still a man hardly five feet tall, was 
then doubtless shorter, so this little fellow walked 
about San Francisco through the morning, his hand, 
as he said to me, firmly clutching the silver dollar 
in his pants pocket. He skipped lunch because he 
couldn t bear to break the dollar, which seemed to 
be a great deal of money and in some way a significant 
piece to hang on to, and he found himself in the later 
afternoon out on Valencia Street where he saw a man 
come down with a brick hod on his shoulder and greet 
another iran who was stacking bricks at the curb, and 


Lehman: these men spoke to one another In an Irish brogue. 

He stared at them, for this was the first Irish 
intonation he had heard since he left Dublin, and 
as he was staring one of them said to him, "B y, 
d you mind who lives here in this great house?" 

He said, "No," he didn t. 

"James Phelan lives here, and he s tight as 
an Irish Jew with a dollar." 

So there was little Albert Bender, a Jew with 
a dollar in his pocket, being told off symbolically. 
I remember saying to Albert then, "I think that was 
probably the most significant and influential event 
in your life; it persuaded you to give away two 
dollars for every dollar you had. And that s what 
you have done." 

Albert Bender had a passion for the arts; he 
also had a passion for eminent personalities. I 
think he was genuinely interested in rich and 
interesting personalities, but his passion was for 
their eminence, which is a different thing. He 
gathered in his studio apartment people who came 
through San Francisco, and invited those people who 
would be appreciative or impressed, and sometimes 
those who would be both, to meet these distinguished 
visitors. Stella Benson was one such, and I ve 
mentioned others. 

His interest in the arts, however, was not 
entirely in terms of personalities, of people who 
had already achieved. He was interested in beginners, 
and he backed beginners. I think it is arguable 
whether he had much discrimination, but I think on 
the whole he saw excellence and promise where they 
were. Bufano was one of the people that he backed 
early; I remember he had several of Bufano s works 
in his studio apartment. 

He also helped writers, and was steadily busy 
and Involved in developing the California Book Club, 
in the origin of which he was very instrumental. 
He created there, largely I think by his own dona 
tions, a secretaryship which was in a way a continuing 

Lehman: fellowship for a writer, and Oscar Lewis inhabited 
that post for some years. 

Pry: Do you know what gave him the idea of developing 
the California Book Club? 

Lehman: I couldn t say what gave him the idea. I suspect 
his burbling enthusiasm was lighted one day by 
somebody who said, "How about publishing such-and- 
such a manuscript?" 

Albert Bender had an almost neurotic, perhaps 
quite neurotic, need to do things for people. It 
may go back to that silver dollar, it may go back 
to the penury of his youth. In any case, he 
couldn t see you without giving you something, and 
occasionally there was a touch of grotesqueness 
about it very often meeting you on the street he 
would fish a couple of ties out of his coat pocket 
and say, "I was Just in so-and-so s and I thought 
I d meet somebody to whom I could give these ties." 

I met him once, for example, on Montgomery 
Street, and he said, "Where have you been?" 

"I ve Just come from getting my passport." 

"Where are you going?" 

I said, "To Europe." 

And he said, "When do you go?" 

I told him, and he said, "Look, while you re 
in Brussels would you go and see Joseph Raphael," 
the etcher, the artist, "who is an old friend of 
mine, and give him this," and he whipped his wallet 
out and took out several twenty-dollar bills this 
was in the twenties, when that was still money. 
"Just put it in your letter of credit," he said, 
"and when you see Raphael give it to him, tell him 
I sent it." 

In due course I did track down Raphael outside 
of Brussels, and went to his house. He was not 
there, he was out sketching, but his wife and children 
were there. She was a lovely, warm-hearted Belgian 
woman, and she welcomed me and after a half -hour of 


Lehmani talk I tried casually, tactfully, to slip her the 
bills which I had drawn In American currency, 
saying that Albert had wanted me to leave them. 
She stood In the hallway I was already departing 
and tears ran down her cheeks and she said, In the 
warm Belgian English Intonation, "We could not live 
except for all the good and true that man does for 
us. H 

This Illustration Is as good as any other, but 
I may add to It. I told Albert, when he asked, 
what boat I was sailing on and on what date from 
New York, and when gifts were brought to the state 
room after we were down the Narrows, there was a 
stack of books seven or eight high from Albert 
Bender In California. Perfectly characteristic of 
him. Sweet, generous, I think a very lonely man, 
genuinely devoted to the arts and very largely 
understanding them, though perhaps not with full 

Pry i I read that his cousin helped him a great deal in 
developing his taste in art. 

Lehman: I don t know about that, that was all before my 

time, they were already peers, equals, by the time 
I saw them. Anne Bremer was a vivid, and again kind 
and generous person. In theory she ran his house 
for him in the studio building. She talked well, 
never seemed to me brilliant at all, but memorable 
as a warm personality. I ve no idea how far she 
influenced his Judgment in the plastic arts. I 
know she was a painter. I know that he published 
some little things of hers in charming volumes; 
I think I gave mine to Bancroft. 

I d forgotten to speak of it, but I remember 
the hilarious laughter rising sometimes into a 
kind of soprano cackle I m speaking of Albert 
Bender. He enjoyed things, he enjoyed them very 
much, and he showed it sometimes in that way. He 
had some asthmatic or perhaps structural difficulty 
in breathing, and rather panted his words out. 

Pry: Did he ever become involved in Jealousies between 

artists? I ask that because one of our interviewees 
has said that there was occasionally misunderstanding 
as to whether Bender had a painting which still 
belonged to the artist, or whether he owned it. 


Lehman: I don t know anything about that, except that I have 
a very intricate conception of what Albert Bender 
was, and I am sure that he himself never took any 
thing without paying for It. What may well have 
happened Is that he, having supported an artist 
for a year or so, thought he was getting a gift, 
since he made gifts the way the sun shines. It may 
have led to a misunderstanding. It Is possible too, 
since he moved his allegiances and enthusiasms from 
one to another, that his loyalty and his giving 
petered out with respect to one artist, having 
begun with respect to another or several others, 
and that the first artist was a little miffed and 
took a dim view of having given Bender a painting 
or sculpture. 

Bender was of course Instrumental In bringing 
Rivera, and bought a number of his things In San 
Francisco when no one much was buying them, and he 
succeeded In getting for Rivera the commission to 
paint the stairway wall In the Stock Exchange 
Building and getting Rosalie Stern, Mrs. Slgmund 
Stern, to give him the commission for the fresco In 
her house In Atherton. At least one of the Riveras 
that Bender bought, the Flower Carrier. Is in the 
San Francisco Museum of Art at the Civic Center. 

It was also a part of Bender s nature to take 
the whole responsibility, in retrospect, the whole 
credit for having done some of these things in 
which he only collaborated. But as everybody knows 
he gave handsomely to Stanford, to Mills, and to 
the University, rare books, bookcases to exhibit 
them. He was a man of large income, but not of 
much -wealth, yet he couldn t have done all that 
himself, and he was very brisk in getting other 
people, like Rosalie Stern, the beautiful wife of 
Sigmund Stern and the donor of Sigmund Stern Grove 
in San Francisco and Stern Hall at the University, 
to make contributions to his causes. He was able 
to bring to bear on humane and cultural enterprises 
far more money than he could himself shell out. 

Fry i Do you know any others whom he was accustomed to 
going to for backing his enterprises? 

Lehman: I don t think I do. 


Lehman: Ruth St. Denis came Into our lives through Albert 
Bender. He called her Ruthie, and was devoted to 
her, and she to him as far as anyone could infer. 
On her trips around the world or if she Just came 
to the West Coast, she would turn up at his studio, 
and from there she would go to parties at Bertha 
Damon s or maybe at the Cats [Sara Bard Field and 
Charles Erskine Scott Wood s house] although I 
never saw her down there. But that was the way 
those things were done. I saw her at Bertha Damon s, 
and saw her more extensively at Albert Bender s. 
I think I remember on one occasion going down to 
the ferry to meet her. My recollection is that she 
and her troupe had Just been around the world, and 
done that big six-months* enterprise in India. I 
went I think with Albert Bender to meet her, because 
my brother-in-law, Clifford Vaughn, had been the director 
of the orchestra for the trip. He was a pianist, 
and had married my sister Prances, who had died some 
what earlier than this occasion. 

My impression of Ruth St. Denis is not of any 
thing much she had to say, though I remember her 
enthusiasm about the possibilities of music of 
India for the dance. My impression of her is of a 
warm, vivid, and delightful person, appreciative, 
and contributing her share. She was not, as so many 
of the rest of these people were, a speaker of 
memorable things. I thought of her as a personality, 
as I thought of so many of the people in the theater. 

Fry: Did these Berkeley homes we have been speaking of 
serve as spots where creative artists could go to 
read their poetry, play their music, and in general 
communicate with the public? 

Lehman: Not in the special sense that they would be open at 
any time, but they were invited and told, "Bring 
your poems," or "Bring your instruments and we ll 
have some music." So there was always something more 
to a gathering than Just, "Let s talk about whatever 
occurs to us." There was always some intention. 


Mrs* William Denman 

Lehman: After this there were in the early and mid-twenties 
other worlds opened up for me. At Mrs. Ell is s I 
met Mrs. William Denman. She had been Leslie Van 
Ness, of the family for whom Van Ness Avenue is 
named. He was an attorney dealing with marine 
affairs, a distinguished-looking man and a dis 
tinguished Intelligence who in Roosevelt s 
Administration was named to the Court of Appeals in 
the California division, a post in which he functioned 
until his death. Mrs. Denman had been married before, 
and I gathered from people who knew her in those 
earlier days that her first husband had been a 
connoisseur of good food and drink, congenial sur 
roundings and good company. In any case, by the time 
I came to be increasingly a guest at their dinner 
table, Mr. and Mrs. William Denman had developed 
or perhaps she alone had developed a flair for 
distinguished dinners, distinguished guests and 
conversation, all with a flair such as I had only 
once or twice, by accident, run into before in my 
life. The Denmans knew everybody in practically 
every walk of life, so that one might one evening 
at their house be in the company simply of interesting 
San Franciscans, Marin County people, and Peninsula 

Another evening Hiram Johnson might be there 
for dinner, and without the slightest evidence of 
effort he was drawn out, he lifted the conversation 
to my astonishment to the highest plane. I had 
heard him once make a political speech, and I thought 
of him as merely a man of shrewdness and skill of a 
very high-grade kind, but here he spoke like a 
philosopher about the common good, about the means 
of moving toward It, about further reaches beyond 
these goals of the common good, and there was nothing 
of the fixed speech about it. It was conversation, 
questions raised* 

This was particularly true at the Denman s after 
the ladies left the dining table. Very often after 
the ladies went upstairs for the dining room was 
on the first floor and the drawing rooms were on the 
second the conversation among the men grew so 
interesting, so absorbing, that our host didn t at 


Lehman: the proper time break it up and Join the ladies. 
Mrs. Denman would then herself oome down and say, 
"We need you, we ve run out of talk," or some other 
light remark of that sort. 

I remember when Louise Boyd of Marln County 
oame back from her first explorations of the coast 
of Greenland, an enterprise she had set up at great 
expense and on which she had secured the cooperation 
of distinguished scientists in all the appropriate 
fields. She was guest of honor at a dinner at the 
Denmans * , and the talk moved into an area where her 
competence lighted all sorts of individual contri 
butions. It was a memorable night of extension of 
interest, and it was curiously emphasized in its 
values by the fact that on her way back from Norway, 
where she had finally relinquished her boat, she 
had stopped in Paris to buy some clothes. She wore 
these at the Denmans in sharp contrast to the 
picture of the woman on the boat who had to bathe 
in a bucket of water behind a canvas in the Arctic 
Circle. In the most elegant of Paris gowns, she 
was striking and interesting to the point where she 
was really beautiful, though not in any conventional 
sense a beauty. That illustrates again the kind of 
thing that went on there. 

On other occasions there would be the mayor of 
Pittsburgh, and a girl who was a dancer on the 
Orpheum circuit, who happened to arrive with a letter 
of introduction [laughing] , and the party was 
bracketed between these two special interests, and 
enormously entertaining indeed. 

I remember an evening at the Denmans when 
Thurmond Arnold, who had then Just taken his place 
in the Roosevelt administration and was already 
known to me as the author of The Folklore of 
Capitalism, was the center of interest, a brilliant, 
vivid man, born in Wyoming, moving in the great 
areas of the law, thinking in penetrating ways few 
people had, at that time, arrived at. We had, we 
discovered, in common, frontier-town origins; he in 
Wyoming, I in the Coeur d Alenes of Idaho. 

Other evenings at the Denmans would center 
around a man like Royce Brier, whose enormous and 
precise learning was astonishing to an academic man 


Lehman: who had thought of him simply as a Journalist. Other 
times, and in combination with many others as the 
years went on, there would be Ina and Bill Wallace. 
Bill Wallace is the San Francisco attorney, and Mrs. 
Wallace is Ina Claire, the stage comedienne, a great 
beauty, a vivid human being. 

In none of these cases was there anything like 
showing somebody off. There was always an effect of 
opening the windows to fresh air, to new Insights, 
to illuminations which personality casts simply 
because it Is personality, unself -conscious and real. 

Pry: With people like Thurmond Arnold, Hiram Johnson, and 
Judge Denman himself, was there any Indication of a 
Progressive background since they were Roosevelt 
liberals, in a sense. 

Lehman: I don t know about that; I never asked about the 

history of their opinions, and I don t remember that 
it was indicated. Thurmond Arnold, I think, was a 
Democrat; certainly William Denman was. Friends of 
Senator Phelan, and so on. I don t know whether 
they came from the Progressive philosophy to that, 
or whether they were Democrats to start with. 

It occurs to me now in retrospect that I dined 
at the Denmans* with Lurline and William Roth on the 
night of the day when the stock market took its 
worst drop, and there was a general sense of amused 
bereavement. [Laughing] There was no sense of 
pessimism or despair at all, though everybody knew 
he d lost a good deal, at least on paper, and I 
remember the question being raised whether we were 
in for the longest of depressions, and the men and 
women had ideas about that and that is what our con 
versation was about: under what conditions a 
depression could be avoided or ameliorated. If 
everybody got scared, and saved what he earned today 
so that he wouldn t be hungry next year, and didn t 
buy what he wanted for tomorrow beyond necessities, 
then we were in for a long depression, and so on. 
There was some good, plain, common-sense talk really 
about the roots of the cycle boom, depression, 

Fry: Do you remember what the ideas were of those who had 
actually lost money on the stock market? 





I don t think they had lost money on the market. 
People like that, If they gamble, gamble with 
$100,000 when they have $10 million. I think It 
Is simply that prices are up, you know you are 
worth so much; prices are down, you are worth only 
so much. Paperwlse, they were down. 

Senator Phelan died the next year, you know; 
he made his will In the expectation that he had 
$12 millions, and wanted to give away $3 million, 
and leave the residue to his heirs. It was twelve 
years before the heirs got anything, because after 
the $3 millions had been paid, according to the will, 
the trustees could barely save the estates, by 
putting everything back In. The Phelan Building 
was only one-third rented; other things weren t 

These people sitting around that night were 
well aware that if there were a true depression then 
the incomes from stocks would be lower. And all of 
those people, of course, had great numbers of 
dependents, big households of servants, people who 
counted on them for annuities or pensions or gifts. 
They thought of deprivations in those terms in case 
their incomes shrank; they would never have incomes 
on which they couldn t eat and do things on a 
reasonable basis. 

But they were concerned about the financial resources 
of the entire country. 

I don t think they thought the financial resources 
were endangered; as I recall it they felt the dis 
tribution system had broken down. So in a way they 
were looking forward to the time when a leader would 
say, "You have to give the people who can use things 
more buying power." 

I remember at those dinners and elsewhere some 
disdain expressed at people who in New York Jumped 
out of windows over the loss of resources. They 
felt they had lost the pioneer sense, which people 
out here hadn t. These people who went out the 
windows didn t know that, well, of course you re 
broke, so you start all over again. These people 
out here would have started all over again; they 
could have begun in a cabin in the Sierra. 


Lehman: Well, these successive groups followed; they were 
first acquaintances, then friends. There are so 
many wonderful little stories, like my recollection 
of Blanche Bates. She was married to George Creel, 
who was Democratic chairman out here. She had 
retired, and they lived in San Francisco after her 
great career in the theater. She was a woman of 
wealth, and she invited some of us whom she had 
met and talked with at another dinner party to dine 
with her one night. We went and had a wonderful 
dinner. She sat at the side of the table in a 
rocking chair, low. It was great fun. Coffee was 
served at the table, saved until afterwards, and 
she swallowed a small cup of coffee and said, "Now, 
So-and-so and So-and-so and So-and-so and I are 
going to play bridge in the library. The rest of 
you can do as you please." So after an hour and a 
half, having done as we pleased, we went up to say 
good night to her in the library. She put out her 
hand and said, "Good night," and Just went right 
on playing. [Laughter] It was delightful. 

So much of that small stuff which isn t record 
able really adds to the flavor of life immensely. 

Differences Among the Social Groups 

Rless: I wanted to find out a little more about the special 

character or quality of the gatherings at Mrs. Ellis *s, 
and at Bertha Pope Damon s, and Mrs. Parsons . 

Lehman: For the most part there was a vivacity of mind and 

interest in receiving and responding and stimulating 
the further flow. The talk would go over every 
subject in the world in the course of time. There 
was much laughter always, gaiety, there was much 
slightly or very witty comment and sometimes it got 
quite personal, and the whole atmosphere was one 
of such warmth and good natured recognition that 
nobody was offended when he was taken for a fall. 

Riess: And conversation would take in the entire group? 


Lehman: It varied. Sometimes even with a dozen or fifteen 
people the talk was made general. This was usually 
quite intentionally done, at Mrs. W.W. Douglas s 
(who is now widely known in Berkeley as Mrs. Helen 
Douglas in her old age), up in Greenwood Terrace. 
At some places, and I think it was true at her 
house, the idea at table was almost the French idea 
of conversation, that through half the meal you 
talked to the people to the right and the left, 
then somewhere near midterm in the meal the hostess 
shot a question down the table to Gilbert Lewis, 
say, or Walter Morris Hart, and everybody fell 
silent and comment was made in answer to her question 
and then everybody took his turn in the general 
conversation (which is the way I remember conversa 
tion at French dinner tables in the 1920s). 

Mrs. Ellis was a law unto herself and every 
moment was a law unto that moment. She might start 
it by saying "Look at the thing I found in Chinatown 
today." Or "At lunch we had so-and-so; what do you 
think his attitude is toward such-and-such?" Then 
she would report this and this would make it go. At 
her table, which tended to be long, often as few as 
eight but it could be sixteen or twenty, the conver 
sation would fall into groups here and there and 
sometimes get general. It was never, in my experience, 
in any of these places, dull. You never felt, well, 
I owe them an evening of company and here I am a 
suffering business. I don t remember that at all. 
It may be that one forgets past pain very easily 

Bless: What were the differences among these three crowds 
of people, which I gather didn t overlap. 

Lehman: Well, I went to all three of them, so in that sense 
there was some overlapping. Sometimes you saw 
persons who were more commonly at Mrs. Ellis s 
elsewhere, especially at the Douglases , but it was 
not too common, you re quite right. 

Mrs. Parsons is on record at the Bancroft 
Library with a beautiful reminiscence of her girl 
hood in San Francisco, Piedmont and Berkeley, so 
that a very full sense of what this life was can be 
got there. She was a small and in later years 
rather a corpulent brown wren of a woman, of a 
warmth and intuition of personality that I ve never 

Lehman: seen excelled in any human being, never the center 
of the stage, always the maker of centers, simply 
by a question, by the shine in her eye, and by her 
enchanting laugh. She was a Sierra Clubber from 
her girlhood; her husband, Edward Taylor Parsons, 
whose papers I ve also given to the Bancroft 
Library, was one of the originators of the Sierra 
Club, and she met him on a Sierra Club outing. He 
was much older than she; he died when she was in 
her thirties. She went on seeing the Sierra Club 
people, which meant bringing all kinds of people 
together because the Sierra Club outings brought all 
kinds of people together. She would start off every 
fall by inviting twenty of the people of that summer s 
Sierra trip, and another twenty people to meet them. 
It was all done on a very simple basis; she was not 
a woman of wealth. She had a very small income, she 
had actually to rent part of her house In order to 
do these things. Everything was done very simply 
and very warmly, and everyone was welcome. Guests 
brought guests. 

She was quite equal to moving out of the Sierra 
Club milieu. I remember once when we were sharing 
the house with her, for the Big Game since from our 
sleeping porches we looked down into the Stadium 
I asked Senator Phelan and Blanche Bates and Paul 
Robes on, who happened to be here, and Ramon Navarro, 
people like that, and she asked some of her people. 
The people that I had asked were out of her world. 
They all went perfectly together. Her single 
sentence made a relation, she had that talent. 
Nothing brilliant about it at all, Just extremely 
warm-hearted and effective. Everybody was glad to 
be there. And never trivial talk, not Just, "Here 
we are to fill this in." People got at things; 
sometimes actually Ideas were started in these chats 
and Stephen Mather would write out later and say, 
"Who had this idea and what further thought has he 
on this subject?" 

Riess: Was the Sierra Club belonged to by most Berkeley 

people then? Even the people who were In Elizabeth 
Ellis s crowd? 

Lehman: No. None of the people who went to Mrs. Ellis s 
were interested much in the Sierra Club. The 
people who went to Bertha Damon s, Bertha Pope as 


Lehman: she then was, those people were very frequently 
people from the Sierra Club. Ansel Adams would 
turn up there, I think, as well as at Marion 
Parsons . 

Riess: Was the Sierra Club belonged to, then, by people 
who were really intending to go on an outing? 
It wasn t Just a conservation-supporting 

Lehman: No, At that stage my impression is that conserva 
tion was supported, as a concept of the club to 
keep the wilderness so that the club could go on 
outings. [Laughter] Then it gradually became a 
major activity. That s my impression. 

You d have to ask the present president of the 
Sierra Club or Francis Parquhar to get a surer 
sense of what and when that transition took place 
but that s my impression. I never went on the 
Sierra outings, though my son did when he was a 
little boy, with Mrs. Parsons. 

Rless: Did San Francisco people get to the Berkeley 
gatherings often? 

Lehman: Yes, they did. In all these three houses though 
as I said there were dozens of other houses where 
you went occasionally to dine, especially academic 
centers like Walter Morris Hart s it was these 
three houses that at least commended themselves to 
me as places to drop into or be asked to or to ask 
people from, and each one of them had its San 
Francisco connections. Mrs. Damon with Oscar Lewis 
from the Book Club, Albert Bender, and all that 
they opened up; Mrs. Ellis through her international 
relations with people from everywhere and especially 
through the Denmans and three or four other families 
with which she exchanged guests and hospitality; 
and Mrs. Parsons had the Sierra Clubbers whether 
they came from San Francisco or San Jose or the 


Benjamin Lehman, Berkeleyan 

Hiess: What would you say it was that you brought to these 

Lehman: Well, I don t think of that at all. I really can t 
intelligently comment on that [laughing]; I went 
there because I enjoyed the talk, I enjoyed every 
thing about the gatherings, and sometimes I went 
two or three times a week to a single house when 
there were special reasons. Now, what I brought 
to it they would know, I wouldn t know. I brought 
delight for I was delighted. I was receptive, I 
enjoyed myself, and of course frequently, though 
not as often as looking back I think I should have, 
when I met people I said, "Well, come to lunch 
tomorrow when I m not teaching." So that sometimes 
it was the responding hospitality that kept the 
thing alive. But there was comparatively little of 
that. These people were all full of recognition 
that the academic world was busy, probably less 
well -financed, and shared on that basis. 

Bless: I wondered if it was because you had, oh, good 
critical faculties. 

Lehman: Obviously one was oneself, one said what one 

thought, and if literature was in question Whipple, 
for instance, and Durham and I would often be at 
Mrs. Ellis s at the same time, with very sharp 
discussions, say, of Wllla Gather s latest novel or 
early Hemingway or whatever. So I suppose critical 
faculty had something to do with it. I suppose also 
interest, eliciting interest, and I suppose a good 
deal it s a matter of laughter. Laughter is a very 
flattering kind of appreciation. That seemed to be 
part of it, too, as I look back. Certainly I spent 
an awful lot of my life laughing. 

You can t know Just what it is you bring. You 
came from a different world, you were articulate. 
I ve no doubt that sometimes people got fed up with 
the contribution one might have brought along. By 
that time it was a habit and you couldn t leave him 
out too often or too long. [Laughing] 

Riess: Despite all the facts, I persist in thinking of you 
as one of the New Englanders who came West to this 


Lehman: But I certainly was a westerner. I was In Idaho 
until I was three years old; then in Idaho from 
nine to fourteen and a half; then East for school; 
then back again for six years; then away for three; 
then back, for good, west of the Rockies. 

Hless: When you were at Harvard did you appear and feel 
western, with an accent, perhaps, and a manner. 

Lehman: I couldn t tell, I fear, without a great deal of 

return upon ideas and attitudes. I*m not conscious 
now of having been conscious then of being "western" 
or "eastern." But I suppose the fact that I so 
readily came West in 1911 when I could have gone to 
Philadelphia to teach at my prep school, and that 
later when I could have stayed at Harvard I came to 
California, means that I had, without thinking about 
it, a strong response to the western pull. 

Rlessj And I shouldn t Imagine there would be anything 

unpolished or ever so slightly hayseed about you. 

Lehman: It s hard to say about yourself. I m sure there 
were indifferences to clothes, and "foreign" 
manners, and naive eagernesses that seemed "hayseed." 
I can remember crudities at all stages of my life 
that I wish I hadn t committed. I can remember 
embarrassments. But then I ve looked at so many 
hundreds of people and seen them perform, no matter 
what their background, in ways that I wished they 
didn t, that I suppose that s a fairly common human 

One always knew, with the kind of upbringing 
that I had, one always knew how to talk to people. 
And it may well be that at some point or other there 
were table implements that my German-backgrounded 
household hadn t provided us with, but then of course 
there were others deemed indispensable that I didn t 
always find in elegant dining rooms to which I went. 
I can remember my horror in discovering that people 
ate soup out of small spoons I don t mean only the 
bouillon spoons, but the small-bowled spoon whereas 
the German soup spoon has the big bowl. I ve come 
into houses of great elegance and wealth where you 
were expected to cut roast beef without a steel 
knife; in the world I grew up in this was an indis 
pensable condition of beginning to keep house, steel 


Lehman: knives for meat). So, I don t know what these 
crudities are. 

I ve observed, as the years go on, that some 
times you fall into long periods of very full 
awareness of what is going on in other people, 
develop a behavior that you can reasonably think 
of as a model of imagination and tact in social 
relations; and then you fall into periods that seem 
sterile in this way, so that you make a gaffe, and 
you compound it with a second one I ve done that 
but my guess is that this is a fairly common 

The Husbands 

fiiess: Where did the husbands of Mrs. Ellis and Mrs. Parsons 
enter the scene? 

Lehman: Mrs, Ellis s husband was Ralph Ellis, who was the son 
of one of the early Morgan partners. He himself, 
young Ralph Ellis, had not been a banker. He had 
been I think a sort of high-grade playboy in New 
York and had married Elizabeth Ellis when he was 
in his forties and she was in her early twenties, 
or he was in his late forties and she in her middle 
twenties, something like that. He was not a very 
wealthy man. It was her wealth rather than his 
which sustained the great house in Long Island and 
the New York apartment and the house in Berkeley. 
He was a quiet man, and looked very wise. I often 
doubted whether this was the case. He seemed acute 
and shrewd, but only fleetingly, from moment to 
moment, and then there were long dry periods. He 
made no effort to shine, he sometimes made an effort 
to draw people out. He was a small man, not 
impressive either in stature or personality, but 

Mrs. Parsons husband I never knew. When I 
came in 1920 he had already been dead for half a 
dozen years. The impressions I have of him are of 
a very able man. He d been a vice-president of 
Sherwin-Williams, the great paint company, and the 


Lehman: West Coast and Islands representative. He d been 
a leader in the Sierra Club activities. 

Mrs. Bertha Damon was then the recently- 
divorced wife of Arthur Pope, the great Persian 
specialist, who married Phyllis Ackerman. He was 
a brilliant man, had been professor of philosophy 
at the University, or of aesthetics, I m not sure. 

Riess: Arthur Pope then went to New York, didn t he? 

Lehman: Well, they went to New York, I think, and perhaps 
they went to Persia. They went to Europe. Then 
they came back and lived in San Mateo where I used 
to see them a good deal. I think that would have 
been In the late twenties and the thirties. 

Phyllis Ackerman was a very brilliant woman 
and enormously learned, and very handsome. They 
were out here before the Ahwahnee was built, for 
she was the one who worked chiefly on those Indian 
designs which decorate the Ahwahnee. I remember 
that she brought to dinner one night a book, with 
the designs in them, thinking which ones she would 
select for what places in the Ahwahnee. They d 
already been to Persia and back, and she had stopped 
in Europe and carried very far forward her enormous 
learning on textiles. You know she was one of the 
great textile women. She had done a lot of work 
with tapestries. Once when we were all in Paris 
together she and I drove from Paris to Beauvais, 
where we examined those magnificent tapestries in 
the cathedral at Beauvais. 

Hless: Had she been a student of Arthur Pope s? 

Lehman: Yes, I think she had. It was one of those teacher- 
student love affairs which gets In the way of a 
precedently-committed marriage. In this case it 
wasn t an episode but a permanent thing, so that two 
very handsome, two very beautiful women in succession 
became Mrs. Arthur Pope. 

Riess: Professor Pepper mentioned that some marriages 

collapsed as a result of affairs, but that in others 
the partners had managed to put it all back together 
again.* He felt that anybody who was around the campus 
had to be mature enough to recognize that teacher- 
student affairs might be a problem at any uoint. 

*Stephen C. Pepper, interviewed by Regional Oral 
History Office, Berkeley, 1963. 


Lehman: It s perhaps Interesting to speak of the University s 
attitude toward divorce. The University s attitude 
as a community and an institution toward separation 
and divorce was on the whole very generous. There 
came a time, for instance, I think in the thirties, 
when three members of the English department quietly 
went off and got divorced, and nothing was said 
about it. They weren t particularly notorious 

There had been a professor of Latin who fell 
in love with one of his colleague s wives and went 
off on a sabbatical presumably by himself, but from 
the sabbatical wrote that he wasn t alone, that the 
colleague s wife was with him and he wasn t coming 
back. The wife in that case, of the man who had 
gone off with his colleague s wife, made a fuss 
about it with the administration this was in 
President Campbell s time and the result was that 
the professor of Latin had to be dismissed because 
of the bad publicity the whole thing had. It was 
badly managed. 

In my own case I stayed on the faculty with two 
divorces with no trouble at all, though since I had 
some kind of publicity ready in the morgues of the 
newspapers because of my novels and other activities, 
in the first case there were headlines in the Sunday 
morning paper, though we tried to get the thing 
through the last moment at noon before the court 
closed on Saturday, and in the other case because 
of the international reputation of my wife, who 
was Judith Anderson. But there was no trouble in 
either of these cases. 

Rless: So the University didn t step in unless there was 

Lehman: With the three quiet divorces in one department, 
there was no trouble at all. 

Riess: In any case, Mrs. Damon was essentially husbandless, 
in her role as a hostess. 

Lehman: Yes. There were a good many men, some of them a 
little younger than she, around; she was a very 
attractive woman. And very witty and very humorous, 
very gay, a great outdoor person as well as drawing- 
room person, very easily engaged by the landscape, 


Lehman! saw everything, valued everything, delighted in 

everything. She had a kind of gaiety of mind; the 
laughter, temperament, character In Its ridiculous 
manifestations as well as some not ridiculous, that 
you see in her books, she had this all the time and 
she sparkled steadily. She loved the riposte at 
her, but she loved the riposte at the rlposter. 

Riess: I was intrigued by your saying to Mrs. Pry that 
she brought her house over from Treasure Island. 

Lehman: Yes, she moved this building, which I think had 
housed the electrical displays, on pontoons, or 
flatboat across the Bay and then they gradually 
moved it up the street, and she built at an angle to 
it a beautiful addition to it. Pope was of the Pope 
bicycle people and had some means, and they were 
able to do this. They planted the garden gloriously 
and there was a great sense of It as their place, 
and she continued to have that and also as a place 
for friends. 

Riess: And it s still there? 

Lehman: Yes, across the street from 620 Woodmont, the 
house that Mrs. Lehman and my colleague Durham 
lived in. 

Rainy Night Club 

We had, it occurs to me to report, a very 
interesting little drama group in Berkeley, to 
which Mrs. Ellis and Mrs. Douglas and two or three 
other women and three or four men belonged. It came 
about this way: I came back in 1925 from Europe, 
eight months in Europe, and I d spent three months 
in Vienna, and what had struck me as most character 
istic, as I went about handed from house to house 
dining out In Vienna, was that almost every evening 
we had music. Sometimes three people who were at 
dinner would get together with a piano, a cello, and 
a violin. Sometimes it happened we talked of music, 
and I can remember one evening at a certain house 
we were speaking of music and my host said down the 


Lehman: table, overhearing the talk between me and his wife, 
"Well, If Herr Lehman so much enjoys music, let us 
make some music." 

"A good Idea." 

He said, "Rufe den an," which means "Telephone," 
so they brought In a pianist, and one daughter played 
the viola, and the host took up his violin and his 
wife played the cello. So we had spontaneous good 
amateur loved music. 

I came home, and one day at the early Black 
Sheep Restaurant I was telling Von Neumayer and 
Whipple and Durham at lunch about this, saying what 
a meager, what an impoverished thing it was that 
we couldn t do that. There was some gaiety about 
how it would be Durham played the piano very well, 
but if I took up the cello and Whipple the violin 
Von Neumayer said, "Let s do this with reading 
aloud." And he planned right then and there, 
committing us to a date, to have a dinner at his 
house to which he would invite Mrs. Ellis, Mrs. 
Douglas, and I ve forgotten who else now, and after 
ward we would read a play which he would pick out 
and of which he would provide enough copies so that 
we could sit around and read it aloud, each one 
taking one or two characters. 

The appointed night it poured, Just one of the 
great deluges, so we decided to meet again and call 
ourselves the Rainy Night Club. For many years off 
and on, sometimes six or eight times a year, we 
would get together, and we read alternately a 
Shakespeare or Greek play and a modern play. The 
host was responsible for picking the play, within 
those limitations, and for assigning the roles. As 
time went by of course there was a great deal of 
comparative gaiety, because everybody had his best 
role, you know. Mrs. Douglas was a marvelously 
ludicrous child of eleven in some play. [Laughing] 
she s so beautiful, so dignified. 

Rless: Were they usually plays you were familiar with, the 
modern ones? 

Lehman: Sometimes not, sometimes we read at sight. 


Musical Experiences 

Rless: Was there much music in any of the groups? 

Lehman: Not really, not in the sense that there was always 
music at Sullivan s in San Francisco and Carmel. 
At his house I first heard Isaac Stern play as a 
little boy, and Ruggiero Ricci the violinist, and 
many others. He gave people starts. He was the 
first American to pay Roland Hayes a fee for a 
concert in a private house though that was in his 
Paris apartment. 

Mrs. Parsons sometimes had music. I remember 
Ansel Adams playing for us dazzlingly. She herself 
was an excellent pianist, but shy, or at least 
audience-conscious. She would play if she didn t 
know anyone was in the house, quite beguillngly, and 
rarely she had someone who was there play. At 
Bertha Damon s I don t really remember music as a 
constituent of a continuing tapestry of social 

Riess: It s an interesting difference music with record 
players is such a background noise in a lot of 
gatherings now. 

Lehman: We didn t have that. At the Walter Harts, from 1920 
to 19 64, I remember music only once when I had some 
new recordings by Roland Hayes, and the Harts had 
come to dine with me one night when Roland was my 
dinner guest. They had been interested and hadn t 
heard him sing, so when I went over for tea one 
afternoon I took along a couple of new recordings. 
And that s the only time I remember listening to 
music, in thousands and thousands of hours under the 
hospitable roof of the Walter Morris Harts. But 
the background noise business was not our way. 
Though we all had phonographs we tended to use them 
when we were alone or with people we knew loved 

But there was music, and among the notable 
musicians was Lawrence Strauss, a San Francisco 
born Jew of German origins, a tenor of the most 
extraordinary musical gift. He tried once or twice 
to make it in the big-time with Town Hall concerts 

Lehman: in New York and never took hold. He hadn t a very 
Ingratiating stage personality. He was little, 
rotund, a little like Truman Capote as a matter of 

But up and down this coast we had from him the 
finest singing of German lleder and French chansons, 
songs of Poulenc and all the great French song 
writers. The art song was sung by Lawrence Strauss, 
sometimes in his own house for small groups of 
friends, sometimes in the houses of other people. 
Three or four members of the faculty, myself Included, 
would ask twenty or thirty people (separately, as 
hosts) in and he would sing, with Betty Alexander 
a marvelous accompanist, Elisabeth Rethberg said the 
greatest she had ever sung with. She was a girl 
from Pennsylvanis who married an Oregonian and was 
living on this coast. With Elizabeth Alexander at 
the piano Lawrence Strauss would sing programs such 
as you expect only the greatest song singers to sing. 
For twenty odd years there was no year in which I 
didn t hear him sing from three to ten times In 
houses or in public concerts, with the exception of 
two years that he spent in Europe. 

This was for all of us an amplification of what 
the humanities can be, because the Department of 
Music at Berkeley hadn t moved yet into the performing 
phase which it has been in for the last fifteen years. 
Otherwise we had only the great concert with Marian 
Anderson and the time when Yehudi Menuhin packed 
the Civic Auditorium as a little boy. Later Dorothy 
Maynor and other world voices. 

Riess: What about the Committee on Arts and Lectures 
activity under Popper? 

Lehman: They did bring a few events. We sometimes had them 
In Wheeler Hall; usually if they were very notable 
like Kreisler we had them in the Gymnasium. But 
those lacked the intimacy of the smaller gatherings. 

(When Goethe s bi-centennlal came along, we had 
Lotte Lehmann. Professor Brewer of the German Depart 
ment, looking forward to the 200th anniversary of 
Goethe s birth, set up a series of events month by 
month. Through the Committee on Music and Drama we 
had Lotte Lehmann singing a program of songs, one of 
her last public concerts, by all composers but all 


Lehman: with lyrics by Goethe. We had Thomas Mann for that 
series. I did a lecture on the Influence of Goethe 
on Carlyle.) 

Rless: Did the person who had Strauss at his house pay his 

Lehman: If we had him In our own house, I think we used to 
pay Strauss $100 and Betty Alexander $35 for 
accompanying him. They didn t ask much In those 
days. We would ask 35 people to come. 

Rless: I can t Imagine what It Is like to be that close up 
to a wonderful vocal performance. 

Lehman: You could talk to Strauss about things. I said to 

him once after a concert, "Everything Is golden about 
an hour and a half like that except the applause, 
and that s a horror. Before the sound has died In 
the air, there Is clapping." 

He said, "Well, let s try a concert In which we 
don t have It." After trying, both he and 3etty 
Alexander said, "It s Impossible. We can t let 
down; It s partly habit." 

The next year I tried a different thing. I 
said, "Make a shorter program, and you sing every 
song twice. There will be nobody in the room who 
doesn t love these things and know them well. Sing 
every song twice, and after the first singing there 
will be no applause. I ll explain this to my guests. 
After the second singing they can raise the roof." 
That seemed to work. We tried things like that. 

The Strausses themselves were enormously 
hospitable. A couple of times a year they would 
have a supper party. I met Elsie Arden at one of 
them before I knew Sullivan. They would have a 
supper party, a buffet for 40 people, and then he 
would sing. It was very fine. 

Hiess: How about locally composed string quartet groups? 

Lehman: We used to have the equivalent of these songs every 
summer in string ensembles at Mills College. Mrs. 
Coolidge helped and a Mrs. Hellman of San Francisco 
helped support those. We had the Pro Arte, the 


Lehman: quartets at Mills, the Lawrence Strauss singing. 

The Duncan MoDuffles 

I don t think we ve spoken, In talking about 
Berkeley, of Sidney Howard and the Duncan McDuffles. 
We knew Sidney Howard, because all of us were 
friends of Duncan and Jean MoDuffle. 

Duncan MoDuffle was a graduate of the 
University. His father had been a small scale 
banker somewhere In the Midwest. Jean McDuffle was 
of the Howard family In Oakland. She had been 
married unhappily, and this was her second marriage. 
I think It was his first marriage. They were as 
ducally handsome a couple as I ever saw anywhere In 
the world, even among the real dukes. They prospered 
partly In building up the East Bay through Mason & 
McDuffie s real estate enterprises and partly, I think, 
through some investments in oil. 

In any case, they built on a substantial area 
where the Bartlett Kurd house and many others are 
now, up Just west of Tunnel Road, off Roble Road. 
They built a magnificent house and the most glorious 
gardens in this part of California, I think, although 
that is perhaps an unwarranted statement since I 
don t know all the gardens around San Mateo. In any 
case, they were the best in the East Bay, a wonderful 
use of natural resources the trees, the shrubs, the 
hillside and a skillful use of all the things that 
modern gardening has developed for the advantage of 
gardens and gardeners. 

It is interesting to note the quality of Duncan 
McDuffie. His gardener was a day-laborer, either 
Italian or Spanish, who had been a ditch-digger. 
MoDuffie had gone up to one of the subdivisions in 
North Berkeley which his firm developed to see how 
the thing was going, and he saw this young Italian 
spade up (because it was before the days of modern 
machinery) a clump of earth with a small flower 
growing on it. And the ditch-digging foreign 
imported man lumped the earth around the roots and 


Lehman! set It aside so It wouldn t Just die. He planted It 
where they weren t digging the ditoh. MoDuffie 
said, "I thought about that for a week, and then I 
decided that I would have him as a gardener, I 
brought him here [to his estate], and he is the man 
who does all this." MoDuffie himself of course 
knew a great deal about gardening, and taught the 

Everyone came to the McDuffies when the 
azaleas were in bloom. At different seasons they 
would have 150 people moving through the great rooms 
and through the gardens. A great many people who 
didn t turn up at the smaller and therefore more 
exclusive parties at Sullivan s or Mrs. Ellis 
turned up there, and you saw everybody. It was very 

Mrs. MoDuffie was a great do-gooder; she was in 
on many, many good causes. Pull of energy and an 
excellent executive, she was rather tart-tongued; 
Mr* MoDuffie was more compassionate, I think, and 
far kinder. 

When Sidney Howard came out here to visit, they 
would have a small group for dinner so that there 
would be real talk, but not about theater. Sometimes 
they invited us; because they had servant trouble 
they invited one or two of us to come in for coffee 
after dinner, and Sidney would be there. So we got 
an impression of a person but not of a theater 
person. If he hadn t written any plays, you would 
have met Sidney Howard anyway because he was Jean 
McDuffie s half-brother. It was very different 
from running into theater people. We knew, of 
course, his wife, one of the Damrosch daughters, 
through such occasions. These were all very simple, 
friendly, friend-begotten relations, nothing of the 
august and famous business attached to it. There was 
Sidney Howard s daughter by his first wife, Claire 
Ames the actress. She married the son of one of the 
great movie moguls. 

That was a small world that sometimes expanded 
at the time when the gardens were in glorious bloom. 

Riess: Are these the gardens that are up embankments on 
each side of a tiny stream? 


Lehman : Originally It was that. There was an original 

redwood house when I first went there up on Tunnel 
Road. Then they bought the great area below in 
the little draw with the stream in it and the great 
oaks. Later, with more prosperity, they built the 
big house. A man who was a doctor at Cowell 
Hospital took over the smaller one. Now the heirs 
have broken the property up. Even in the MoDuffies 1 
time, however, they sold off the top of it to the 
Bartlett Kurds, who are people from Arizona, and 
they have a vast house up there and are apparently 
of large means. There are three or four smaller 
houses below. I suppose it s been broken up into 
acre sites. Is it sometimes open to visitors? 

Riess: The people whose house I visited had access to the 
gardens, so the gardens are open to the people who 
live there. 

The Lordly Ones 

Riess: I ve read both of your novels, and I can t resist 
asking you who The Lordly Ones were whether Just 
now we ve been talking about them ? 

Lehman: The Janitor in The Lordly Ones was the Janitor on the 
top floor of Wheeler, done by intention because he 
was such an extraordinary man. We never knew his 
history, but he died (I think of cancer) after a 
very painful series of operations, sustained by the 
professors who gave considerable sums out of their 
devotion to him. 

This devotion sprang from many things. In the 
first place, he had a beautiful singing voice as I 
recall he was a tenor and he sang for us in a 
quartet at the Faculty Club. It was said that he 
had been to Cambridge or Oxford University and had 
a year or two of work, that he d been to the 
university and hadn t finished the work, and that 
he had preferred a mechanically-operated life so 
that his mind was free. In any case, one day when 
I was talking to him about a book which lay on my 
desk and which he had read before I read it, I 


Lehman: turned to him and said, "Gordon, you should be 

doing what I am doing. I d be good at what you re 

And he said, "Oh, no, I should not exchange." 

He said, "When you re done in the classroom 
what do you do?" 

"I go home and read students papers." 

He said, "I go home and read literature when 
I m done." 

Gordon was extraordinary. Durham and he carried 
on well, he came on duty after Durham went home in 
the afternoon, and Durham and I were office mates in 
Wheeler Hall. Gordon had found in the wastebasket, 
by accident, a document that should have been on 
Durham s desk and he put it back on the desk and 
wrote a couple of Latin sentences to Durham. Durham, 
finding these the next day, wrote a Greek sentence 
or two of thanks. And Gordon read this, and left a 
sentence of Hebrew. Now, I ve no doubt he went 
round to get the professor of Hebrew to help him, but 
in any case that was the spirit of the thing. [Laughter] 
This is the man I put into The Lordly Ones t the 
Janitor the president talks to as I remember it, 
and I m going to reread the book now, for other 
purposes, though I haven t looked at It for thirty- 
five years. I never read proof on it, you know. 
George Hand generously did that. When I had em done, 
I had *em done. 

The rest of the people are not anybody I ever 
knew or studied. There are bits and pieces here and 
there a glamorous woman that I had observed when I 
was a boy in the mining camp made a contribution to 
Kate Willow; a woman that I knew in Philadelphia, and 
Elizabeth Ellis, gave something to Berenice [Wild 
Marriage]. And I certainly never knew Roger Morlay, 
the university president. I think Elam Dunster in 
Wild Marriage comes from, in part, a student I had 
at Washington State College, who had about his 
attitudes and who was my own age, so perhaps something 
of my own sense of experience went into that. And 
then almost everyone, every male senior has had a 





fleeting sense of love for the wife of some young 
colleague, and I think that was my experience and 
that goes into Elam Dunster, too. 

But they are all invented to illustrate situa 
tions. I wrote them while I was teaching, you 
know, so that I never had time to brood over them, 
and if I had gone on and not gone into administra 
tion, I would have taken more time. I really meant 
to say something about academic and fringe academic 
worlds in both of those books, which was something 
I was very conscious of, not having yet made up my 
mind whether I d stay in the University. When I 
first went to Europe it was definitely with the idea 
of finding out, and I half found out. 

Was there curiosity about The Lordly Ones? 
people feel they were being pictured in it? 


Not that I knew of. No one ever accosted me and 
said, "You shouldn t have put me in. H And to this 
day I don t know; I don t think I thought about it 
at all. Nobody made me think about it, and if any 
body has said so in the interval I haven t heard 
of it. 


Social and Working Life. Then and Now 

Fry i It appears that most of the people we ve talked 
about were people who had wealth, or at least 
enough to compensate their income a little. 

Lehman: Well, you move towards something there that really 

needs to be explored and defined. Side by side with 
what went on at Bertha Damon s, at Parsons (although 
in those days these women had only small incomes), 
and at Mrs. Ellis s, and in half a dozen other houses, 
there was the normal routine academic life. 

Now the social life that is part of the activity 
in the academic world would range from special cases 
like that of the Walter Morris Harts , down to the 
little, pretty small puddle activity of people who 
didn t have the social flair or the vividness or per 
haps the accidental good luck to get drawn into one 
of these other groups. The Professor Hart world was 
the beneficiary also of some fiscal resources, for 
Mrs. Hart Agnes Borland, the daughter of a builder 
and contractor in Oakland had an income and she 
loved people, and Professor Hart was in a special 
place for drawing interesting people around him, for 
B.I. Wheeler appointed him to be Dean of Summer Sessions 
and to create, as he did, the Inter-Sessions. 

He brought from all the universities of the 
world from Prance, England, Germany, and of course 
from American universities interesting and dis 
tinguished and, again, vivid academic figures. And 
the teas at the Harts the so-called Summer Sessions 
teas and, for those who seemed indicated, the 
dinners and the lunches, and the gatherings at the 
Faculty Club when the Faculty Club was much smaller 
than it now is and it was easier to move around 
among people, all of this constituted a kind of 
social life that had a strong intellectual and 
learned content, but remained largely social. Into 
it there were drawn a great many academic people 
whom one never saw at Mrs. Parsons house or at 
Mrs. Ellis s or at Mrs. Damon s. In those places 


Lehman: one saw people with special flairs who suited the 
hostesses. This Is always a selective business. 

There were for all of us delightful oppor 
tunities dinner for four or for six in the houses 
of colleagues, where the new literary developments, 
Sinclair Lewis, Hemingway in the twenties, were 
discussed. Eugene O Neill and the developing 
American theater... we didn t feel on the outside 
about those things; after all, you could read the 
plays if you couldn t see them, though Indeed we 
did see Emperor Jones and Beyond the Horizon in 
San Francisco. So it was not only these people of 
means who made centers for those of us who had 
access to them. There was also a wide and steady 
band of activity in the academy itself. 

Pry: The creative people who went on to make names for 
themselves, or who had already done so by that 
time, were found mostly at the Elllses and in such 
homes ? 

Lehman: Yes. I remember, for instance, a wonderful evening 
at the Warren Gregorys 1 again, financial resources 
come in at which Sherwood Anderson and his wife 
were the guests of honor, a really good evening. 
The residue settled in your spirit for a long time. 

Pry: What was your impression of Sherwood Anderson? 

Lehman: His kindness, his utter kindness, and, when things 
were discussed that brought it into play, his 
compassion I think of kindness as being to people 
present, compassion with respect to the understanding 
of people whose predicaments were described. He was 
very handsome in a dark, brooding way, I remember, 
very quiet, not much gesture, but ready to talk 
about anything. I do not remember that he talked 
about his own works, and I specifically remember 
that someone commended him, a few nights later In 
my company, for having not talked shop that night. 
As a matter of fact he was talking shop, because he 
was talking about people, and people are a novelist s 
shop, but what my interlocutor meant was that he 
didn t talk about how you wrote. 

Pry: What happened to this sort of social life we have 
been speaking of in Berkeley and in the Bay Area? 


Pry: Is there a plaoe now where people congregate that 
is not Institutionalized? 

Lehman i Well, Mark Schorer for Instance (there are others) 

is an eminent member of the faculty of an institution, 
but I do not think that the gatherings at his house 
are institutionalized. I think he breaks out of 
that. The answer is I suppose it is going on. I 
myself have largely withdrawn from it, this last 
decade. But I know that Mrs. W.W. Douglas gathers 
in vivid people as they come through, usually people 
from Washington, where she knows a great many people 
from the press, in the national government she 
invites people to meet them. 

I m sure it goes on, but it would take somebody 
like Schorer, who is floating in the stream now, to 
say. Occasionally a distinguished visitor to the 
Department of English is both Institutional and non- 
institutional. Schorer has sometimes brought one or 
two of these visiting professors some of whom 
aren t institutionalized at all down to lunch with 
us or someone brings them to spend a night here. 
We enjoy that, they seem to enjoy it, and it gives 
them a glimpse of what is left of this kind of life. 

Fry: You feel that this kind of life went on through the 
twenties and the depression, and perhaps through 
World War II? It wasn t too altered then, by the 
things around it? 

Lehman: Of course it lasted as long as the people did. 
Marion Parsons died twelve years ago, I think; 
Elizabeth Ellis died about the same time; Bertha 
Damon is still living but is old and frail, and less 
comprehensive in her invitations than she once was. 

There are successors, and I think the Schorers 
are of these. I ve been in the Schorers 1 house 
when Mercedes McCambridge, the motion picture 
actress, and Josephine Miles, and oh, five or six 
people of the most diverse interests gathered to 
talk over a cocktail and then a supper, and then 
a ranging and penetrating kind of talk without any 
program, without any plan nobody running it, Just 
letting it happen. Now a man like Schorer of course 
gets an enormous amount of work done, so this is not 
done in the way that Mrs. Ellis did it because Mrs. 

Lehman: Ellis found in these social activities her full 
career. For him, or for him and his wife, Ruth 
Sohorer, it is a sort of side development of his 
career, or sometimes a buttressing of the career. 

I think perhaps the lining up of so many 
eminent names may obscure my stressing that what 
went on on the campus was really very vibrant. 
In the 1920s, when people gathered, there were no 
cocktails before dinner. We all lived very simply. 
People gathered, had a glass of wine, and settled 
down to talk. At George Calhoun s very often the 
men went into the library for an hour. At Professor 
Hart s they went into the library. 

I don t know what the women talked about, or 
I ve forgotten if I was told, but we men talked 
about the new developments in scholarship, the new 
developments in criticism. There was very little 
concern about politics. For instance in the first 
part of the 1920s, a casual laughter about Warren 
G. Harding would take care of all our political 
concern. [Laughter] Some crack, "Have you heard...?," 
and politics was done. 

You sat around with people like George Adams 
in philosophy, an idealist, and a man like 
Loewenberg who was also an idealist but of a 
qualified sort. He had been Josiah Royce s assistant 
at Harvard. There was young and brilliant William 
Dennes, who came from Sonoma or Santa Rosa to the 
University and grew up on the campus as he had 
grown up in the state. 

Once or twice in the early 1920s Charles Mills 
Gayley gathered the Department of English with a 
stimulating person from French and German for an 
evening of talk and a glass of wine. You didn t 
have to feed people in those days in order to get 
them to open their mouths as you did later. 
[Laughter] We looked forward to these things. 

Sometimes there was talk about teaching, and 
I remember that by 1923* when I came back from 
Europe, there had got going in the intervening 
year a sort of habit of visiting one another s 
classes. I went In to see how Whipple did it, and 
Whipple went in to see how Durham did it, and Durham 


Lehman: came to see how I did it. We visited round; then 
we lunched together and talked it over, and very 
often lightly undercut one another and said, "I 
would go to sleep if I were your student at this 
point." There was a great deal of free, warm 
hearted camaraderie which made possible some 
fairly sharp criticism. When we had visiting 
lecturers, the Sather Lecturer for instance, 
"visiting lectures" was a common habit partly to 
get the ideas of these men but chiefly to see how 
they did it. We knew one another. 

When Cline and Bronson in English came as 
youngsters in their twenties, we were men moving on 
to forty. They came to lunch with us irregularly, 
sometimes at their own promptings and sometimes by 
invitation, and a common spirit grew up. We were 
then moving In the humanities into graduate teaching. 
The first doctorates of any importance were worked 
for: in English, Mrs. Hazard s The Frontier in 
American Literature and Sister Madaleva s The Pearl . 
There was a great deal of talk about that. We 
gathered at the English Conference. There were 
several "shop clubs" of faculty to which one or another 
belonged, or if one didn t belong to any of them one 
was invited from time to time to come to give a paper 
or simply to come as a guest. 

Hiess: Shop clubs? 

Lehman: Yes, where everybody talked his own shop. Special 
papers or reports for intelligent people in other 
fields. Also, I can t imagine how it would be now 
with the throngs there, but in those days we didn t 
have cafeteria at the Faculty Club. We sat down at 
table and were waited on so that there could be talk. 
If you had anybody coming through, Conrad Aiken and 
Walter Lippmann, whom you knew, you would ask them 
to lunch at the Faculty Club with three or four other 
people, and you would have a talk. Muriel Rukeyser, 
at a little later time, was there; Caldwell had her to 
lunch once. Constance Rourke, I had for lunch; 
Jacob Wasserman, I had for lunch with 30 people in 
one of the big rooms at the Faculty Club. 

Bless: When you have 30 people, do they all get something 
from the man? 


Lehman: At least an Impression I There is a little talk 
before people sit down; there is talk after the 
break-up. You say a few words, and the man gets 
up and speaks for ten minutes. That is to do him 
honor in the oase of a man as big as Wasserman, 
and besides, Wasserman spoke very little English, 
almost none at all. 

Hi ess: It s interesting that this was used so much and 

felt so necessary then. It seems that now is the 
time that this kind of intimate gathering is so 
essential, because otherwise people Just disperse. 

Lehman: I Just wonder how it is now, because when I have 

gone to the Faculty Club, of which I am an honorary 
life member, I stand in line between two people who 
weren t born when I retired, I think. [Laughter] 

Hi ess: And who aren t speaking probably. 

Lehman: Then they don t know where they are going to sit. 
Sometimes they haven t a knack for getting a con 
versation going with X and Y who are there purely 
at random. I think we had a great sense of the 
common cause, the common intent, the common occasion, 
and we got together a group of people in English 
and later in other disciplines who, once a month 
through eight months, read a paper each one to the 
others and then published them as a volume, Studies 
in English, or Studies in Comparative Literature. 
T"his is distinguished from the "shop clubs" above. 
It wasn t what you would think of as a bubbling 
ferment, but it was a ferment Just the same. 

In addition to the people whom I have mentioned, 
there should be Gilbert Lewis, who was a dazzler 
although he was only a chemist. His mind went 
everywhere and penetrated to everything. Joel 
Hildebrand was always stimulating from the earliest 
times up. 

I think we had a less cultish sense of what to 
do if somebody came by, if a distinguished or 
interesting visitor came by. I have the sense now 
that when they come by they land up at Mark Schorer s 
with six or eight people who see everybody, and the 
rest see nobody, but I m not sure about that. 


Riess: It must be hard to be a visitor in these situations 
where all you do is get a lot to drink and are 
expected to say something brilliant. 

Lehman i I never enjoyed the cocktail circuit. I enjoyed the 
people who went on it, but if I drank then I didn t 
enjoy it. I don t know whether there are people so 
conditioned to drinking that all their senses are 
alert. My own personal pleasure consisted always in 
talking and having a good time, and then afterward, 
on the way home or as I was going to bed, thinking 
it over step by step, fixing it (in my mind), and I 
found that if I had three cocktails I couldn t. I 
have gone to retirement dinners once or twice since 
I retired, and it seemed to me that everybody was 
high and some were much too high really to contribute 
to the occasion, and if you can t contribute you 
can t take away. But that is a different world which 
I don t know anything about. 

Hiess: It seemed like there was more incentive to gather, 
some unique performance or some personality. 

Lehman: Of course the performances are wonderful now. If 
you think about what the Department of Dramatic 
Art does and what the Department of Music does and 
how good the shows are at the museum, it s thrilling. 

We had nothing like the Magritte show of three 
months ago or the Pasquin show, but we found in 
books and sometimes in personal contacts with people 
who came by the stimulus we needed. We went on 
sabbaticals with a greater sense of accumulation 
that could be shared when we came back, and I think 
the sharing Is important. Everybody goes so much 
now, and they go so lavishly with Guggenheims and 
other allowances that when they come back no one is 
interested. Everybody has got his own tale to tell. 

I remember when Whipple came back, or Durham 
came back, or Jack Loewenberg came back, evening 
after evening, or evening and lunch and some after 
noons, we would ask, "What did you see? What did 
you do?" We shared other people s travel in that 
way. Some of us didn t go to Prance, or somebody 
else didn t go to Scandinavia, and we gathered all 
that up. I don t mean in great crowds. People like 


Lehman: to talk about what they ve done you know, so If a 

man Is telling It to two tonight he s not averse to 
telling it to two more tomorrow night. 

But, If all this sounds as though we were 
predominantly social, we were very hard-working 
University men in those days, with nothing like the 
extra freedoms that seem now to be accorded special 
fellowships for a year, for Instance. One of my 
young colleagues was here for the weekend and has 
Just finished an extra year with a sabbatical 
coming next year, full salary, to do anything he 
wants to do. We worked. We produced In our field; 
we carried very heavy teaching loads, comparatively; 
we helped administer the University. Quite lately 
I noted that all the emeritus professors of English, 
and I m speaking of my near and narrow group now, 
I noticed that all of them had LL.D.s from the 
University, this in recognition of their production 
and their contribution to the administration of the 
University. That went from Walter Morris Hart right 
straight through. Farnham, Brodeur, me, and since I 
was on the platform, George Stewart. So we weren t 

We also traveled, we also got to the mountains 
and got to the Northwest and went all over the state 
in the days when the highways weren t so crowded. 

Bless: What didn t you do that people do now that takes up 
their time? 

Lehman: I don t know. We gardened, we collected books, I 

collected paintings. When I moved out of Tamalpais 
fioad, I had sixty-five framed works, ranging from 
Dflrer and Rembrandt etchings to paintings by Bloch 
and others. We had time to do these things. I 
don t know how, but we were busy. Well, you know 
it yourself, there s a bubbling energy. I don t 
have it any more, but I had it in those days. 

Riess: There wasn t a lot of time spent commuting then. 

Lehman: Well, I lectured a great deal; for a dozen years, 
almost every year, all the way from San Diego to 
British Columbia. Three lectures in Portland, two 
In Seattle, one in Spokane I d do this in the spring 






Lehman : 

holiday. And I always did some lecturing In San 
Francisco for fifteen years at the Women s City 
Club and at what used to be the San Francisco State 
Teachers College. Those lectures were extensions 
of the Intramural lectures, the lectures on the 
campus . 

If you went to lecture on Hemingway In San 
Francisco, you didn t have to begin from the ground 
up because you taught English ^1B on campus which 
Is now English 51B and lectured on Hemingway there, 
or Jeffers, or Wllla Gather. And sometimes you 
threw In a lecture about a classic, when they were 
willing to take It. 

How did the Regents enter In socially? 
any Regents In Berkeley? 

Were there 

The only Regent we saw really Intimately was James 
Moffltt, who for years was chairman of the board. 
(The governor Is always president.) He stayed on 
the Regents until very late In life; he was a 
graduate of the University, a very close friend of 
Walter Morris Hart, through whom I came to make a 
close friend of him. He lived in Piedmont, he was 
a studious man, a banker and the president of the 
big Moffitt Towne concern In San Francisco, but he 
managed to read everything, and he kept reading 
Latin through a long life and collected the superb 
collection of editions of Horace s Odes and other 
works. He backed us in the Library in collecting 
books, made money available to us when we were in 
shortage, and he was kind to many of the less well- 
earning professors, sending them theater tickets 
and so on. A very generous man. But he was the 
only Regent that I saw commonly, and that largely 
on account of the Hart relation, which opened up 
a relation for me. 

And people like the Riebers, for instance, where 
would they fit in? 

The Riebers lived up on the hill on Canyon Road, Just 
below us there, above where the Stadium is, and left 
at the time of the Stadium controversy. (She 
wouldn t live there after the Stadium was put in, 
and he resigned. Then the Regents persuaded him 
to move to what was then the new UCLA campus, which 


Lehman: was not yet out at Westwood; it was downtown at the 
old state teacher s college. He went down there and 
became dean of the faculties and was very valuable 
in creating the new University on that new campus, 
and was with them until they moved out there.) 

Mrs. Rieber, who for all I know is still alive, 
was a painter of real distinctionmostly portraits 
and she added a great deal to life in the twenties 
in Berkeley, until in the Stadium crisis they left. 
She gathered in any number of people to meet dis 
tinguished foreigners or Easterners, and all such 
came to see her because she d scent a good deal of 
time in New York and she spent a good deal of time 
in Boston, painting Josiah Royce and William James, 
and George Herbert Palmer. 

Riess: She was commissioned to go all the way to Boston? 

Lehman : 


Lehman i 

I don t know whether she was called there or whether 
she went and badgered them until they sat [laughter], 
which was much more likely to have been the case. 
She was a very determined woman, in spite of being 
very charming and very feminine. Her daughter is 
Mrs. Joralemon in Berkeley, who is also a painter 
and a vivid person. 

Was it University people that Mrs. Rieber gathered 

University people who they thought would be interested, 
or perhaps even sometimes be interesting, to meet a 
Russian painter or a French painter, or an Eastern 
writer. I remember a series of these occasions 
though at the moment the individual guests of honor 
don t occur to me. 

Summer Sessions and Why They Throve 

Rless: What made that Summer Session arrangement blossom 
In the 1920s the way it did? 

Lehman: Some time, I think during the First World War and 
possibly even Just before the war began, Benjamin 


Lehman: Ide Wheeler asked Walter Morris Hart, who was then a 
professor of English, to become Dean of the Summer 
Session and to turn the Summer Session into a 
medium for relating the University to the academic 
community all over the country and in Europe. Hart 
proceeded to do that with great imagination and 
great human social skills, and also with a great 
suddenly-revealed talent for the economic aspects 
of the situation, for he not only made the Summer 
Sessions pay their way, but he found that he had, 
after a couple of years, enough money left over to 
pay for keeping the Library open during a special 
session which he called the Inter-Session. 

By 1920 when I came to Berkeley, there were 
well established two summer sessionsthe Summer 
Session, and between the end of school in May and 
the Summer Session, an Inter-Session. In the Inter- 
Session there would be few visiting faculty from 
other institutions, but there were offered courses 
which allowed students who had a shortage In a 
field, or a shortage in units towards graduating 
at a specific time, to take a few courses. And 
the Inter-Session throve on that ground that students 
could hurry up their graduating program. 

The Summer Session was the session to which in 
all fields, taking advice in those where he wasn t 
himself knowledgeable, Professor Hart brought really 
distinguished people, anthropologists from Europe, 
literary men like Charles Cestre and Emile Legouis 
from Prance. John Livingston Lowes came from Harvard 
and read The Road from Xanadu Lectures in Wheeler 11, 
the first time the public had been in on it. Earlier 
I understood Barrett Wendell had come out from 
Harvard. Well, the rosters of the Summer Session 
catalogues would show that there was no season in 
which there weren t distinguished visitors. 

Hiess: And did the students come from far and wide? 

Lehman: Yes, the students came from everywhere. This was 

partly a matter of mature students and teachers from 
other parts of the country wishing to advance them 
selves by getting graduate credit or advanced 
undergraduate credit, and It was partly a matter 
then of their coming where the climate was pleasant 
in the summer. Two things were exploited in the 


Lehman: publicity for the Summer Session: the Berkeley 
climate and the distinguished faculty including 
the best of the local faculty, as well as these 
august visitors. 

Then, Professor and Mrs, Hart, having a 
charming house there at the head of Bancroft Way, 
on Piedmont, proceeded to give small dinners, six 
to eight, in which they carefully put together the 
visiting foreigner and a native, and there were 
long evenings of vivifying discussion in all fields. 
I remember being there when there were biologists; 
I remember another time being there when Katherlne 
Pullerton Gerould, the short story writer and 
Professor Gordon Hall Gerould of Princeton, who 
was lecturing in English, were there. So, there 
were these small dinners, and then every week there 
was a tea, and the hours were rather long, as I 
recall, and people moved about the house and the 
gardens there at the head of Bancroft Way with a 
great deal of ease. I always had the sense of being 
enormously stimulated, both by meeting personalities, 
people who had a presence that stood by itself, and 
then being much stimulated by the importation of 
ideas and attitudes from Harvard, from Princeton, 
from Yale, from Chicago. 

Then in that period, since the teas and the 
dinners were mixed, men and women, faculty members 
and their wives, Professor Hart had two or three 
large dinners at the Faculty Club, which was then 
smaller in membership, homogeneous, beautifully laid 
out and beautifully served, for the purpose he had 
in mind which was an extended meeting in which men, 
over sherry usually cocktails were not then 
required talked as they happened to find themselves, 
in the neighborhood of this man or that, and then 
dinner where the placement was very careful so as 
to make relationships, and then through a long 
evening in the lounge and in the billiard room. 

Then, as I recall, at least once every Summer 
Session Professor Hart gathered the cream of the 
crop for a great luncheon, often as many as twenty- 
four people, at the University Club in San Francisco. 
Well, these are only suggestive to the future 
historian; they do suggest ferment and inter-campus 


Lehman: cross-fertilization, you know. 

Hiess: And Professor Hart s role was fantastically 

Lehman: He was one of the most creative people in the history 
of the University, not only In the ways that I ve 
Just indicated, but because of the people he brought 
to the faculty permanently when, with the ascent of 
Professor W.W. Campbell to the presidency, Mr. Hart 
became vice-president. In that position he worked 
quietly, inconspicuously, but most effectively for 
the addition of distinguished intelligences and 
achieving scholarship to the faculty. He had done 
this, of course, originally in the Department of 
English, where when Professor Gayley began to lose 
his grip, more or less, Mr. Hart was the vice-chairman 
and made the appointments. Mr. Gayley still had the 
great panoplied position and reputation and cared 
about it, so he was allowed to stay there, but Mr. 
Hart did the work. 

Hiess: Were Presidents Barrows and Campbell as interested 
as President Wheeler had been In carrying on the 
Summer Session? 

Lehman: Barrows was a good friend of Walter Morris Hart s, 
and sent him out to build up the Department of 
English when, in 1920, Barrows became president. 
He authorized him, I believe, to make certain other 
explorations in related humanities areas, so that 
appointments of some quality could be made in these 
places. So, of course, Hart kept on under Barrows, 
as friend, and sometimes his agent. And also through 
the Barrows regime Hart was still Dean of the Summer 

Then when Campbell became president, and asked 
Hart to become vice-president or I think at first 
it was called provost when that happened, then 
Hart was in the central seat where all these things 
were done. He kept an eye on the Summer Session. 

Now, it occurs to me I ought to add, about the 
Summer Session, that the Summer Session throve for 
the reasons I ve already suggested, but it also 
throve because so-called "educationists" had secured 
the passage of laws for up-grading teachers in the 

Lehman: state of California, and teachers were required, for 
advancement, to do certain kinds of work In the 
so-called education courses, and In the subject 
field of their specialization. This was required 
for advancement, but In some districts and under 
some conditions it was required to maintain your 
place as you were, and your salary as It was. The 
result was that those Summer Sessions had a large 
bloc of self -improvers, or status- improvers, or 
salary- improvers, and there was a decade there when 
that was a very strong factor, and I don t know that 
it would occur to everyone now that Walter Morris 
Hart is dead to speak of that, but I remember his 
speaking of It to me. 

Riess: This eventually waned? 

Lehman: Yes, there s much less of it than there was, I under 
stand. For one thing, the laws were changed; for 
another, people in later decades didn t get the 
teaching positions unless they had already done the 

Riess: Then Bruce was the man in charge of Summer Sessions 

Lehman: Yes, Harold Bruce succeeded Walter Morris Hart, I 

think, though Guy Montgomery was in there somewhere, 
first as assistant dean. But I think Bruce became 
the Dean of the Summer Sessions when Hart went into 
the vice-presidency. 

Harold Bruce was professor of English, a Yale 
man, a man of great charm, and a man very useful 
to the University largely because more than anyone 
else he had the talent for appreciation, he 
recognized the valuable qualities both in a man and 
in what he wrote or what he did, and he was extremely 
handy at speaking of this to the man or in his 
presence, and he did a great deal to build morale in 
the post-war time when there was the whole business 
of Benjamin Ide Wheeler s relation to the University 
and the trio that followed. There had been some 
deterioration of morale under all of that, and I 
think Harold Bruce in the humanities areas did a 
good deal to compensate. 

He became Dean of the Summer Sessions, but they 
moved into secondary place, largely because the 


Lehman: University grew and the faculty grew, and more and 
more departments were bringing in permanently men 
who were willing to come permanently, who ten, 
twenty, and thirty years earlier would only have 
been willing to come for six weeks in the summer. 
What it amounted to then was that instead of being 
on the fringe of the American educational and 
university community, Berkeley was inside It, and 
close with faster transportation close to the 
center of it really, until at last it may even be 
said that the center has moved where Berkeley is. 

Jessica Peixotto, the Adolph Millers, and Others 

Riess: It s interesting to pinpoint some of the great leaps 

forward into the sight of the world of the University: 
the Hearst-Benard plan, Wheeler s enthusiasm for 
such an excellent Summer Session. 

Lehman: The historian will have to see the history, the push 
and pull, the give and take, the manipulation, of 
the University s being the beneficiary of circumstances 
that have nothing to do essentially with what the 
University was, like the requirement of the educational 
courses that we Just spoke of. Then of course the 
University was both the victim and the beneficiary 
of so intricate a character as Benjamin Ide Wheeler. 
He was an extraordinary man of light and leading; 
he was also crotchety, vain, secretive, and many 
other things. Looking back, one could say, "One 
ought to be thankful for the blessings;" he did a 
great many remarkable things, and at a time when 
this was still the fringe of the world. 

In that early period also there were people who, 
as far as I know, did not sit much in the seats of 
council. I think, for instance, of Jessica Peixotto. 
She, I think, had the reputation of being first-rate 
in her field. She was of a San Francisco family of 
means and of cultivation. One brother was Ernest 
Peixotto, the artist, and another brother I ve 
forgotten the name now had perhaps less fame, but 
equal distinction. She was friendly with all the 
more cultivated Jews of San Francisco, being herself 
of a Jewish family of Spanish origin, and she engaged 


Lehmani the Interest of the always generously-giving, 

wealthy, San Francisco Jews, and caused a great 
many studies to be made with funds made available 
by these friends and acquaintancesas to the cost 
of living, as to academic salaries in relation to 
the cost of living and all of this in the second 
decade of this century, and perhaps even before, 
when nobody was paying any attention to such matters. 
There are publications, I think, by the so-called 
Clara Heller Committee, and that benefaction, and 
indeed Mrs. Heller s continuing and very generous 
interest in the University stems, I think, orixinally 
from Jessica Peixotto. 

She did all these things. But she had another 
thing. There were very few women on the faculties 
in those days, and such as had means, like Miss 
Sprague, the dean of women, and her sister, Mary 
Sprague Miller, and Jessica Peixotto, created a very 
good climate in the decade before people like 
Elizabeth Ellis and certain other wealthy people 
settled into the community and offered great rooms, 
good hospitality of every kind, as the place in 
which the ferment could go on. I think this had, 
at long range, a great deal to do with the University 
becoming the really distinguished and immensely 
fermenting place that it is. And it could easily 
be overlooked. 

Bless: When Phoebe Apperson Hearst had her house here was 
this another generation? What did this house 

Lehman: Professor Hart and Jessica Peixotto, for instance, 
who had been at the University from the nineties, 
remembered well Mrs. Hearst s hospitality in her 
"Entertainment House." Someone will have told you 
that that Entertainment House was,after her death, 
given to the University and was moved on campus to 
be the girls gymnasium. That s the one that burned 
somewhere in 1921-22, that college year. Then Mr. 
Hearst gave the money for the new Women s Gymnasium 
in memory of his mother. 

Mrs. Hearst, and these older people, like 
Jessica Peixotto, Walter Morris Hart, were all of 
a time. Both Hart and Peixotto at various times, 
many decades ago now, talked to me about how 


Lehman: vivifying Mrs. Hearst s parties were for the varied 
fertilizing contacts which minds have to make with 
one another and which only a large social life 
affords the opportunity for. 

Miss Peixotto was so charming that a very 
special quality attached to her gatherings, and 
these, as far as I knew them, took place at Cloyne 
Court, for she had by that time given up her house. 
They were usually in the forms of dinners, but they 
were occasionally just an evening "come in for 
the evening." This didn t mean drinking in the 
modern sense, of course, it meant perhaps a cup of 
chocolate, a cup of coffee, and talk. 

Miss Peixotto had an inquiring mind; she was 
willing to talk in her field, but she was eager to 
talk out of it, and especially out of it she was 
eager to inquire. It was obvious to me quite early 
in the sequence of occasions that she had one or two 
things in reserve in mind in case the good and the 
vital didn t develop. I remember on one of these 
occasions when things seemed to be flattening out 
in the way of talk, she said, "Now I d like to know, 
With a biologist and an economist, and a literary 
man here, whether you think Alice in Wonderland is 
a symbolic work or not?" One of tn"e~ greatest free- 
for-all discussions I ve ever heard in my life 
followed, long before the critical books began to 
talk about the symbolic and concealed satiric 
values of "Alice." That s the sort of thing. 

Riess: Would you tell something about Cloyne Court? 

Lehman: Cloyne Court must have been built in the era in 

which Mrs. Hearst s Entertainment House was built, 
for it was the same sort of redwood construction, 
as I remember it. This all was under the influence 
of Maybeck, the architect of whom you have many 
notes, no doubt. I don t know whether Maybeck was 
actually the architect for these two buildings, but 
the kind of redwood house that Walter Steilberg 
later built on the hill above the University one 
for Marion Parsons, one for himself, for his mother- 
in-law that kind of house was out of the Cloyne 
Court tradition. It had an inner patio, it had a 
pleasant dining room with routine food, as I remember 
it. What I remember specifically, coming from a 


Lehman: European family as I did, was the startle with which 
I discovered that you could begin a dinner with a 
fruit cocktail. It took me months to digest the 
fact [laughter], though I ate the cocktail. 

Another thing that was very interesting In those 
days to me, coming from Philadelphia and New England, 
with this European background, was that people began 
dinner with a salad. I understood at the time that 
it was or they thought it was a Spanish custom. 
At small dinners In houses where people "did their 
own work," as the phrase was, you would begin with a 
salad, there would be no soup, there would then be 
what was called an entree-which meant meat or chicken 
or even fish and a vegetable or two, and then a 
dessert. So that dinner was a simple affair dining 
out; it didn t lead to any great orgy. The kind of 
house that Mrs. Ellis kept, of course, and the Harts 
kept, always beginning with a soup unless for very 
gala occasions you had oysters before the soup, that 
kind of thing was not commonplace among the members 
of the faculty. 

Hless: Cloyne Court was an apartment house? 

Lehman: It was a residence hotel. There were apartments: 
Jessica Peixotto had a long living room upstairs, 
I remember, as well as private quarters, perhaps both 
a study and a bedroom and a bath. These were suites, 
and then there was a common dining room downstairs. 
Whether In that era there were kitchenettes where 
women got their own breakfasts, or even men did so, 
I don t know. But it was that kind of place Just 
north of the campus, within easy walking distance 
for the faculty, and quite a few elderly faculty 
lived in it, and some families. 

Living north of the campus also in those days 
was John Galen Howard, the architect whose design 
for the campus is still in some ways dominant. His 
house at 1^01 LeRoy was of his own building, and 
at the end of his life it was sold by Mrs. Howard 
to Professor Walter Morris Hart and his wife, and 
it was in that house in March of this year that 
Walter Morris Hart died. To the original Howard 
house which spins this Steilberg-Maybeck -Howard web 
of architecture out to the Howard house was added 
a library wing over the dining room-kitchen winp , 


Lehman: by Julia Morgan, the architect of this house* on the 
porch of which we are sitting, and the architect who 
for the last thirty years of her life spent all her 
time at San Simeon. Julia Morgan made that delightful 
library for Professor Hart, so that it was a John 
Galen Howard-Julia Morgan house and still is. 

The John Galen Howards belonged in those early 
twenties to a group of people who read poems they 
met for dinner, a group of ten or twelve, and after 
dinner listened to one of the members read oh, I 
remember one night Chauncey Wells read the poetry 
of Vachel Lindsay aloud to the group, and then they 
discussed it. The Riebers would turn up at a party 
like that, for instance. 

Riess: And the Adolph Millers, you were going to mention 

Lehman: The Adolph Millers need a very full sketch, their 

place in the University is very large. Adolph Miller 
was a young professor of economics at the University, 
a friend, I think, of Franklin Lane, who became 
Secretary of the Interior for Woodrow Wilson. Adolph 
Miller had been born in San Francisco, had an 
instinctive and very deep feeling, I think, for San 
Francisco, for the Bay Area all the way down into 
the Santa Cruz redwood country. Now, of his specific 
education I don t at the moment recall anything, but 
I know he came here to teach whether he had gone to 
the University and gone away and come back, I don t 

In any case, there was on the faculty as Dean 
of Women one of the Sprague sisters of Chicago; she 
was a woman of large means, her father and uncle had 
been the great, successful wholesale grocers in 
Chicago, and she was visited by her sister Mary in 
Berkeley. Mary was musical, charming, soft-voiced, 
really a beguiling person, though not a notable 
intellect, and she and Adolph Miller were married. 
She came then to live in Berkeley as Mrs. Adolph 
Miller, and they built a large house on Ridge Road, 
the house that is now the Cooperative, west of Euclid. 
They lived there. 

*This account was dictated in Saratoga, at 
Hay field House, which Julia Morgan designed and built 
for Mrs. Lehman (then Mrs. Chauncey S. Goodrich) in 1920, 


Lehman: Now, this brings us into the second decade of the 
century, and Woodrow Wilson was setting up the 
Federal Reserve Board, and somehow it s a matter 
of record in the books but I think through word 
from Franklin Lane, Adolph Miller came into con 
sideration and appointment on the Federal Reserve 
Board. So they moved to Washington where Miller 
had a long career In government service, and 
incidentally, a long career building up the few 
millions of dollars that Mary Miller inherited into 
a very large fortune. Both of them, but particularly 
Adolph, had the Bay Area, California, the West, all 
focused in their minds at the University, and 
ultimately settled practically all of the wealth 
as the Miller Foundation for Science at the Univer 

That foundation was set up, I think, during the 
Second World War years, and it was divided, as I 
remember, three-fifths income to go to Mary Miller, 
two-fifths to Adolph for life, but that anything 
they didn t draw of the very large income of the 
sixteen or so million, stayed in, tax-free, and so 
over a period of years the capital increased. Then 
with the death of Adolph his two-fifths flowed into 
the fund, and at her death the whole thing became 
University property, and the Miller Science Founda 
tion resulted. 

The Millers were among the most stimulating 
people that ever came to Berkeley, and it was not 
Just because they felt they were home when they got 
to Berkeley and the University; they were stimulating 
whether I saw them on Long Island or in New York or 
In Washington. Adolph Miller knew about everything. 
He was one of the best Judges of paintings; and 
though not one of the best, a very good Judge of 
music; he had read books, he was interested in ideas, 
he was interested in works of literature and works 
of art; and he always went straight to the richest 
possibility in anything anyone said, and enlarged 
and deepened and heightened the subject. It was 
very impressive always. It was an education at the 
fireside; it was an education across the lunch or 
the dinner table. I remember seeing him for a long 
weekend at "The Puddles," Mrs. Ellis s house in 
Jericho, Long Island, where he was easily the most 
distinguished intelligence there, though all sorts 


Lehman: of important people were also house, guests. I 
remember when the women left the dining room in 
his own house in Washington a beautiful house that 
Mary built back sometime in the thirties this 
seemed to me like a wonderful seminar in which no 
one had to write a paper. It couldn t have been 
better; so it was always. His benefactions, you 
see, were not only fiscal and available at death; 
his benefactions came just from hour to hour as he 
lived an Impressive thing in my life. 

Bless: And he stood out, not his wife. 

Lehman: Though she wasn t a great intelligence, she did cut 
into the heart of problems and matters, she nestled 
up to them, she elicited a sympathetic humanness out 
of anything that came up. She had extreme charm, 
she was an excellent musician, and for years, having 
started her interest in the Bach performances when 
the Bethlehem director was in Berkeley, she continued 
her support of the Bach festival in Bethlehem, 
Pennsylvania, and when one wanted tickets for that 
she always could get them because since she was a 
major sustainer of it there were always some reserved 
for her. 

I think it too bad if the way one puts these 
things suggests that the brilliant intellect 
comprehensive and precise is the high desideratum 
of the kind of world that I ve been talking about. 
It took many things and Mary Miller had some of the 
things that it took, and without which all of the 
brilliance would have been hard, would have been 
brittle, and perhaps sterile. 

The Millers kept coming back, of course, 
especially after Mrs. Ellis lived in Berkeley, 
because they were old friends of hers. And after 
the Berkeley fire she had bought the house that the 
Millers built on Ridge Road and in which they had 
lived and which I think they had rented for the 
interval to the Hearst sons who were in college in 
those years. Later Bill Wurster added a couple of 
rooms to that house when Mrs. Ellis lived there, but 
it was built originally for the Millers. 


iiiess: I think you know we have an interview with Luoy 
Sprague Mitchell.* 

Lehman: Yes, and of course in this connection such papers as 
have been given to the Bancroft and to the General 
Library from the estate of Walter Morris Hart should 
be looked into. He and Wesley Mitchell were very 
great friends, and I think there must be e p;ood deal 
of correspondence, letters from Mitchell there 
certainly there are some from Mrs. Mitchell. 

Gifts from the East: The Visitors 

Lehman: The value for the growing Intellectual life of the 
University of the teas and dinners during Summer 
Session which Walter Morris Hart gave cannot be 
stressed too much. For Instance, what Katherine 
Pullerton Gerould did for us was chiefly done over 
dinner tables and across the tea cups. She made it 
clear that you could live in an academic world and 
write stories, and this was an Important part in the 
beginning of that development which now makes it 
possible for a man to be a professor of English or a 
prof essor of anything and write poems, write stories, 
write novels, and regard all that as part of his 
productive activity, his evidence of creative 

Riess: Was she able to explain how to do it? 

Lehman: No. She simply talked about why it was a valuable 
thing for the community and convinced some of the 
more staid, scholarly research people that they 
should give value to this. When a young man in the 
department published a novel or some short stories, 
it should be recognized | whereas before they said, 
"Well, that s fine, that s money that comes into 
his till, but it has nothing to do with being a 
professor. " She also encouraged us to teach the 

^Mitchell, Luoy Sprague, Pioneering in Education. 
Berkeley, California, 1962. 


Lehman: short story and the writing of the short story, 
which was not common. It Is now, but It was not 
common In 1920. 

Hiess: Was it happening at daces like Princeton? 

Lehman: It was hardening at Princeton. It was not happening 
yet at Harvard, though in the advanced writing 
courses a man might write some stories or some poems 
as T.S. Eliot did at Harvard. This was of value 
for the whole thinr, and. it ought to be seen as part 
of the history of the University and particularly 
of the humanities in the 1920s and then moving into 
the 1930s. 

In the department, people like Walter Morris 
Hart, Harold Bruce, became men who voted for advance 
ment to the next grade on the ground that a man had 
published an admirable short story. This was counted 
as much as a little article in & learned journal. 
Before that it had not been. 

In the same spirit of capturing some of the 
vibrant promptings in those decades that brought 
about change in what a teacher of the humanities did 
as an individual to contribute to the morale of the 
group, to the contributions of the crroup, I ought to 
speak of the way in which we welcomed visitors, not 
Just Summer Session visitors, but at any time through 
the year. Any distinguished man or woman who came 
would be invited by someone on the faculty to lunch, 
and three or four people would meet him or her. In 
the wake of that there would be a few more occasions, 
and always talk on a level above the level of "I 
liked your last story." 

fliess: Would these people be invited on lecture tours? 

Lehman: Sometimes they were lecturing and sometimes they 

were simply traveling. For instance, Jacob Wassermann, 
who in the early *30s was a world figure with his great 
novel The World * s Illusion in the best-seller areas, 
was traveling in California. I met him at a luncheon 
party in Hillsborough, and invited him to cone to 
Berkeley to lunch with a group of the faculty. He 
was delighted, and he and Mrs. Wassermann cane. I 
asked scientists like Gilbert Lewis and men from the 
German Department and men from the humanities. 
Ultimately there were as many as 24 or 26 at the 

Lehman: Faculty Club In one of the committee rooms, where 
they gave us a fairly decent lunch. We had some 
agreeable spring flowers cut in great branches and 
laid over the table. This gives a sense of our 
relationship to creative minds on another continent. 

When Thomas Mann s children, the boy who later 
committed suicide, and his daughter Erika, came 
through in 1928 or 1929 on their way from Japan 
(they had been traveling around the world in the 
early twenties), we had a very pleasant dinner and 
evening at Noel Sullivan s house at 2323 Hyde Street 
in San Francisco. Then they came to the University 
to lunch with a few people that I gathered together. 
This kind of thing was happening round about. 

Occasionally somebody came from Africa and 
there would be a lunch for such a person, a native 

I got to know Erika Mann on the occasion when 
she came to the University, so that in later years, 
when her father had left Germany and was living near 
Santa Monica, it was a great pleasure to see her 
again, because one had had a good talk with her and 
remembered it. 

One did not feel, on this coast, as unrelated 
as, looking back, an historian might think we were 
because it took a long time to get from one coast 
to another and there were no airplanes. Travel was 
not so much taken for granted, yet people did travel, 
Everybody came to San Francisco, it being one of the 
nodes through which any traveler had to move. 

There would also be occasions which would bring 
people. For the Goethe Bi-Centennial, Professor 
Brewer, of the German Department^ organized a series 
of five or six evening commemorations. One of the 
occasions was Lotte Lehmann singing a program of 
songs, all of which were songs written to Goethe 
lyrics. These things did not happen in a void. She 
was up two days before in San Francisco and there 
was only a little foregathering with her on the day 
of the concert because she was almost at the end of 
her active career and had to limit her use of her 
energies. On the day of the concert she did nothing 
until after the concert, when she came to my house 


Lehman: on Tamalpais Road where 30 or bQ people came for a 

light supper. She met all sorts of people and talked 
with them, so that no one felt that they had come In 
to honor Goethe and were going out with everything 
flat. She was a vivid, delightful human being. 

The same thing was true when Thomas Mann came 
to give one of the talks in that series. He gave 
the talk in careful English. He had written it in 
German and it had been translated by his secretary 
and his daughter. He read it carefully, and after 
ward he answered questions, which were asked in 
English. Sometimes his daughter Erika on the plat 
form with him translated the question from English 
into German. He answered her in German, and she 
translated into English for the audience. After 
that, as another example of how these activities 
interfused out into the community, we all went to 
Mr. Brewer s, and had two hours of post-lecture 

Riess: Such moments made the University feel more in touch. 
What were some of the other benefits? 

Lehman: People of a certain sensibility cannot come into the 
presence of personalities that are themselves as 
personalities impressive without gaining, especially 
when those personalities are accompanied in the 
individual by a gift, which in Thomas Mann s case 
had even then resulted in a great shelf of famous 
books, by all Judgments immortal. The same sort of 
thing was true in the case of Wassermann. In the 
case of Lotte Lehmann , a woman of transcendent skills 
with a glorious voice coming to the end of its glory, 
for she was in her sixties, there was the sense that 
this woman had really ravished audiences in every 
musical capital of the world. Then, listening to her 
in Wheeler Hall, Wheeler Hall also became a place 
where such things happened. It was all that kind of 

Some of the visitors gave no speeches; it was 
simply a human being with whom we spent a few hours 
and of whom we carried away an impression. 

Bless: I had thought that these meetings with visitors were 
a way that the University of California was carried 
back to the rest of the world, but it seems as though 
the greater value was perhaps in the opposite direction, 


Lehman: It worked both ways. I thought of It chiefly as a 

value that oame to us and made us feel a part of the 
great world, whether these were visitors or our own 
people on high show. Bradley, the lexicographer 
from the Oxford Dictionary, here for a few weeks, 
did carryback a report of what went on with us and 
who was what. Invitations to younger men to go to 
other universities were often the result of these 
contacts made by Europeans or Easterners traveling 
among us. That Is, not Infrequently, still the case, 

The Retirement Dinners : Summlng-Ups 

Another thing that made the humanities prosper 
so that we were able to get to the Jump-off point 
for a really great Department of English and great 
departments in the languages and in history, was the 
tradition of the farewell dinner when a man retired. 
It was a time for taking stock; it was a time of 
listening to a man who had had a long life, usually 
entirely at the University but not always, of service 
here, and who now really girded up his loins and did 
a Job of thirty or thirty-five minutes of farewell 
speech. These were great occasions, stock-taking, 
inspiriting, stimulating, and for days afterward when 
you met the other members of the department, it was 
the thing you talked of. I remember with the greatest 
satisfaction how often the talk afterward had a 
certain vibranoe. 

Riess: Can you remember any specific Instances? 

Lehman: Early, Leonard Bacon was a member of the department 
for a few years, a poet and wealthy man from Rhode 
Island, a Yale man. 

Charles Mills Gayley, who had been the great, 
illustrious representative of the humanities on the 
campus and in the American world, was one of those 
figures who made Berkeley seem very close to the 
centers of civilization. He came to his retirement 
in the early twenties. 

When Walter Morris Hart retired, in the early 
thirties, he gave one of the finest addresses I ever 


Lehman: heard. The manuscript of his speech is in either 

the Bancroft or the General Library where his papers 
were deposited. He was a great preslder at such 
occasions, but he oould also make a great talk on 
his own. He had the custom of writing the speech 
out carefully and then forgetting it and saying it 
word for word simply because he had written it down. 
He was the greatest after-dinner speaker I ever 

Riess: In some cases, as with Gayley, were these people 
with whom the department had not really had much 
contact with toward the end? 

Lehman: No, in those days the department was small. When I 
came here there were a dozen and by the time Gayley 
retired there were perhaps eighteen. The post-World 
War I period meant an increase in the numbers on the 
staff. In the day when departments were smaller 
these things were easier to manage. For the Department 
of English now with so many people, it is impossible 
to have this kind of dinner with the sense that 
everybody knows everybody else. 

When Walter Morris Hart was eighty years old, 
in 1952, Willard Durham and I gave a dinner and 
invited the whole department. We had it at the 
country club on College Avenue^ Hart then, because 
he was eighty years old, read his speech for the 
first time in his life. He began it by saying, "If 
you will permit me, I shall read what I have to say. 
Not that I fear I may not, speaking extemporaneously, 
have enough to say, but that I fear that I may have 
too much to say." [Laughter] He was not a garrulous 
old man. He gave this review of his own history in 
the University. I do not exaggerate when I say that 
for days and, in some men, perhaps for weeks, they 
walked around with a lighter step and a greater 
sense of belonging to important things, from that 

In the early days we used to have a cocktail 
per man and a glass or two of wine during the dinner 
for toasts. In later years the drinking was heavier, 
and I don t know that all members were able to take 
the impression complete. It got fragmented in 
listening, or perhaps diluted in retention. [Laughter] 

? C fl"O 


Lehman: ([Added May, 1968] I happened the other day to be 
looking through the history of the University as 
William Carey Jones presented it in 1895. And what 
struck me, among other things, was how meagre the 
laboratory faoilities of every kind were, how wide 
open and empty the streets and all the vistas in 
the photographs taken from that time, and, with a 
single exception, how bearded, or at least 
mustachioed, every member of the faculty was. 
Finally, it was very interesting to look through 
the succession of photographs and see the men who 
were still active in the twenties, though approaching 
their retirement. Men like Andy Lawson, Mellen 
Haskell, Ernest Hersam, Leon Richardson, and others. 
Oh and I should add Gayley to the list. 

It was also interesting to observe how very 
few of the younger men who are listed as appointees 
in that five or six year space before 1895 came to 
great distinction. Distinguished appointments, or 
appointments which led to distinction seem to have 
come slightly later. ) 



Introduction to Los Gatos and Carmel 

Lehman: But there was another world. In the mid- twenties 

I published a novel under my own name and was Invited 
to be a member of P.E.N. There I met Mrs. Atherton, 
In the last years of Senator Phelan s life, a weekend 
guest from time to time of the Senator at Montalvo. 
Through an academic acquaintance, W.W. Lyman, a 
member of the English Department, I had in 1921 met 
Sara Bard Field and Charles Erskine Scott Wood of 
The Cats in Los Gatos, which became a center of 
other things. And finally, through Dr. Lovell 
Langstroth, who is still [196^] living in San Francisco 
[now deceased, 1966], who had married Anne Brenner 
the widow of the designer of the Lincoln penny, Victor 
Brenner I met Noel Sullivan, Senator Phelan s nephew. 
I had never met him at the Senator s house. 

He became the greatest opener of doors that any 
body could possibly have imagined, and with his name 
I can say something about what I began with. When I 
came out from Harvard in 1920, though I had been 
encouraged by one or two of my teachers who said "Go 
out and grow up with the country," most thought of it 
as a desert. I found it far richer in opportunity 
and relationships than Cambridge would have been for 
me. It was certainly true that everybody sooner or 
later came through San Francisco and the Bay Area| 
whereas not everybody came through Boston, after the 
nineteenth century s great period was over. 

Speaking of these other worlds of Los Gatos 
and Carmel, in later years, when Marie Welsh had met 
and married my older friend, George West, I used to 
see Bertha Damon at the Wests as well as the Wests 
at Mrs. Damon s. 

Fry: Was Marie Welsh writing at that time? 

Lehman: Oh, she was writing poetry from the time, I think, 
she went for a semester or a year to the University 
of California, and probably before. She has been 
one of the distinguished poets, I think, of our time, 


Lehman t not at the moment in the vogue, and so perhaps not 
as much published as our more far-out poets are 
published, but a poet of intellect in the service 
of the most acute perceptions of natural phenomena 
birds, Insects, trees, flowers, anything that has 
its place in the natural scene. She also is a woman 
of passionate devotion to the underprivileged and 
has written poems which express that devotion. 

She has a place at Los Gatos up in the hills, 
called originally I think the Star of the Hills. 
It s in a canyon, and one goes up by a somewhat 
precarious road that affords absolute isolation in 
the loveliest surroundings. The original part of 
the house was built by Maybeck for its first owner, 
and Marie Welsh bought it sometime in the thirties 
as a hideaway hideaway in her case means hideaway 
when she wanted it. She was generous and welcoming 
to her friends there in large numbers upon occasion. 
She was a few-miles-off-neighbor of The Cats, and 
so Sara Bard Field and Charles Erskine Scott Wood 
were in her company, or she in theirs, very often. 

There was a third house, called Cathedral Oaks, 
In which Prank Ingerson and George Dennison lived. 
They still live there, one of them over ninety, the 
. other approaching ninety, and they are neighbors to 
the house of Yehudi Menuhin Just above them on the 
hill. [George Dennison died in late 1966.]* 
They are creative artists who have worked in ceramic 
and enamel and wools (rugs, etc.) this house in 
which we sit has dozens of small objects that they 
have made, and I think they are among the finest 
things made since the Renaissance. 

Pry: They are the men who were known as "the boys"? 

Lehman: They are "the boys. 11 They were always called that 
from sixty years ago when they first moved here. 
They had distinguished careers as interior decorators 
as well as craftsmen. They worked in this country 
and in Europe, in London, in Rome, in Paris, and 
were commissioned to create that beautiful Ark of 
the Covenant at the Jewish temple in San Francisco, 
the one with the Moorish dome. 

So you see here at Los Gatos there was a way- 
station between the San Francisco-Berkeley coteries 
and those who gathered in Carmel, where George Sterling 


Lehman: and Robinson Jeff ere and Charlie Chaplin, in later 
years, and all those who gathered around Noel 
Sullivan were. Sullivan first had a small house in 
Carmel proper from about 1931 on called "Innisfree" 
from Yeats *s poem; he named it Innisfree with a 
consciousness of the pun, N.S.-free, because he was 
freed from the heavy burden, social and financial, 
of his great house in San Francisco, when he moved 
to Carmel. 

Fry: My impression is that this life was not at all 

institutionalized; whereas in Berkeley it is connected 
with the institution of the University. 

Lehman: There was no institution. The Los Gatos countryside 
was lovely and people sought it. People wished to 
be not too far from a center like San Francisco, or 
from an institution like the University or Stanford, 
but they wished to be far enough and they set up 
their ways of life here. And there were not only 
these people themselves, but the people who came to 
see them, so there was always a current of revivifying 

Beyond that, things were started here for 
instance, the Alma Trio was started here, and named 
for where the men lived, before the dam was built, 
over here on the way to Santa Cruz. These men were 
refugees from Europe in the Hitlerian time, and 
local people, my wife included, sustained them until 
they could re-establish the equanimity of spirit 
which was necessary to becoming again the artists 
that they were. These three men were part of it and 
there were many others of the same sort. Nothing 
institutional here, though life here was benefited 
by the institutions because University people came 
to visit. 

Financial Aid to Artists 

Fry: Was giving artists a place to work, if not some out 
right financial aid, a usual concern? 

Lehman: Well, this giving of aid or a place was somewhat 

accidental, I think, In Berkeley. If one heard of 


Lehman: a necessitous case, one did something about it, and 
that held true for people far less well off than 
Mrs. Ellis. Ox; if one heard that an artist was 
ready to write a book, then one either did something 
about it, by collection or even by shelling out 
sustainment oneself, or one channeled these people 
into application for the Phelan Fellowships, for 
Instance, or later for support from the Jackson 
fund. I think it was all done quite casually except 
for the Phelan awards. 

Then people learned over those decades that 
the Guggenheim Fellowships weren t alone for 
academic applicants and more and more if you had a 
promising young novelist whose work came along to a 
point where he could with Justification apply to the 
Guggenheim for a fellowship I remember writing 
recommendations which perhaps helped bring a 
Hosenwald Fellowship to Langston Hughes, and many 
other people. 

I remember Bill Saroyan applied for a Guggenheim, 
and I was at that time and for a couple of years 
referee when the committees on the Guggenheim Founda 
tion felt that people who had been asked by the 
candidate to support the application hadn t said 
enough. Saroyan s was one such case. The committee 
said, "Now what do you think of Saroyan? Is there 
anything fresh and original? Do we really go anywhere 
with this?" 

There was always on the fringe of our awareness 
these national foundations, and that of course has 
grown through the years, though I ve been detached 
from it for a long while except in the sense that 
occasionally somebody says, "Please write me a 
recommendation. " 

Fry: What about the group here in Los Gatos the individual 
sources of aid to artists? 

Lehman: Well, Erskine Wood and Sara Bard Field did a lot of 
that sort of thing, directly and indirectly that Is 
to say, directly when they themselves could share 
their resources, indirectly when they interested 
Noel Sullivan or Senator Phelan, and so on. And my 
wife has underwritten many for example, the pianist 
Francis Whang, now on the Yale Faculty of music. (1968) 


Lehman: Then the boys at Cathedral Oaks, Ingerson and 

Dennlson, were always helping young artists, and 
not only in the arts they themselves worked in, 
where they schooled beginners, taught painting, 
drawing, enamel -making, but also in acting. They had 
a great deal to do with the development of Joan 
Fontaine and Olivia de Havilland, both of whom grew 
up here at the Hayfleld gate, on La Paloma the 
house directly across the street from this estate. 
They were girls there, and in their girlhood were 
in and out of this house because they were the same 
age as two of my wife s daughters. Well, "the boys" 
backed these girls they didn t need financial 
backing particularly, what they needed was somebody 
who saw their talent and helped them develop it, and 
saw possibilities latent. There were a number of 
women here who directed plays in which those girls 
took part. So that kind of thing was done quite 
informally here. 

Senator Phelan in earlier years helped people 
out. Dorothy Van Ghent, as a young poet at Mills, 
had a stipend, I believe, for a year or two from the 
senator, and some others had. I think when he chose 
the poets to help without having any advice he was 
likely not to get very good poets. And earlier, 
Maud Pay, the San Francisco girl, who became a "diva" 
in Munich. 

Charles Erskine Scott Wood and Sara Bard Field 

Fryt Could you tell us when you first met Charles Erskine 
Scott Wood and Sara Bard Field? 

Lehman: Yes; I met the Woods and Fields, as we used sometimes 
laughingly to say, I think in the spring of 1921, 
in a small apartment in Berkeley. They had come in 
as guests of the W.W. Lymans. W.W. Lyman, called 
Jack Lyman, was an instructor in English. He had 
specialized in Celtic studies at Harvard with Fred 
Norris Robinson, and had a rather vague idea that 
he would go ahead and be a professor of Celtic, but 
for the moment he was teaching English writing poems 
and so on, for he was something of a poet himself. 

Lehman: He was the son of a banker from St. Helena, and I 
think lives now in St. Helena in the old family 
house to the left of the road as you go out of St. 
Helena. He was married to Helen Hoyt, who was an 
excellent poet and at one time I think co-editor or 
assistant editor of Poetry Magazine with Harriet 
Munro. Well, they invited me down to tea to meet 
the Woods and the Fields. 

Sara in those days was not quite so white- 
haired as we now see her, but already quite white 
in consequence of the accident in which her son was 
killed. She was as beautiful in her special way as 
anyone I had ever seen warm-hearted instantly, the 
voice perhaps a little over-sweet for the things she 
was saying, for it always had that sweet intonation. 
But her beauty and warm-heartedness and a certain 
sharp alertness in conversation are what I first was 
struck by and what I still recall as the predominant 
impression, and still value. 

Erskine Scott Wood was an entirely different 
phenomenon. You felt you were in the presence of 
greatness, not merely of excellence, charm, or 
beauty. Erskine s voice, already in those days but 
much more in later years, tended to go off on a high 
pitch, but it never seemed inappropriate. The 
presence of the man was so absolute, so distinguished, 
suggesting the far reaches to which humanity can 
arrive. Sara Bard Field and Erskine Wood were living 
in those days in their house on Russian Hill, and 
had as I recall Just acquired the land at Los Gatos, 
where they were about to build a house. It s possible 
they were already building it. 

Fry: Was Erskine, do you remember, concerned with this 

ideal which was rather far removed from the here-and- 
now, of autonomy for each person, or did he bring 
one s attention to pressing issues with solutions in 
the present? 

Lehman: The terms in which you make this analytical statement 
do not describe the impressions I had at that or at 
any other time. It seemed to me that he wore his 
radicalism with the lightest possible air. He could 
be passionate about it in any given case; he could 
be very passionate in his statements; he was capable 
of being outraged by an event or a situation. But it 


Lehman : never took over you never had the feeling of the 
lunatic fringe. It was always the attitude with 
respect to a specific situation of a man whose 
largeness, whose depth, whose altitude of comprehen 
sion was such that everything fell into place. 

Whether he was talking about the dishonesty of 
an artist who made misrepresentation of his own 
(Ersklne Wood s), promises; whether he was talking 
about the predicament that some deviate got into; 
whether he was talking about the disinherited; the 
whole of life was in his mind when he spoke of a 
specific case. So when I heard him speak in terms 
that would have dropped into any of his books, 
Heavenly Discourse or others, I never had the feeling, 
this man is riding a hobby. I never had the feeling, 
this man is now out to get something changed. He 
was out to get something changed, he was Interested 
in what he was doing, but that wasn t all of him 
and it never seemed to be all. I have over the 
years always been a little resentful of the picture 
of him that s been given to me by a number of people 
as a crackpot radical. 

His treatment of his own fortune is illustration 
of where he stood. He had made a great deal of 
money, and he provided for his wife, from whom he 
had separated, for his children, and then took the 
rest for himself and set up a way of life which, 
if he were a crackpot remedier of causes, would 
have been ridiculous to spend all this money for an 
ample way of life, you see, when you can give this 
money to somebody who is starving or to somebody who 
needs an education or a studio to paint a picture in. 
He shared what he had, but he didn t shrink his own 
life in order to do it. That & is to my mind the 
ground on which one can assert that he was a very 
great human being. All these things fit together. 
A noble man, capable of concern, capable of passionate 
remonstrance, capable of intruding where he thought 
injustice had been done, but living with benignity 
and serenity, not above the battle but encompassing 
the battle. This is what he was, to my mind. 

Pryi There was no distortion in his world. 

Lehman i That s a good way of putting it. His special causes 
did not distort his total vision, they simply filled 
it in. And one has to go along a little further. In 


Lehman: later years at The Cats and often at Hollow Hills 
Farm, Noel Sullivan s place in Carmel Valley, and 
earlier at 2323 Hyde Street, the Sullivan house in 
the city, one saw that Sara and Erskine had a 
reciprocity of personality, of vision, which was 
not a convenience of the marital or domestic setup, 
but was the result of two people with superb 
intelligences and wonderfully complementary intu 
itions operating on one another, and outward on all 
others. One felt one was in the presence always of 
one of the very good things that life can afford, a 
picture of what can be done. Never, as I recall, 
never once did I hear either of them withdraw the 
contrary position because the other one would be 
hurt. They spoke directly out, and they always 
spoke out in such a way that anybody was part of the 
thinking, if he was there. You were sure that when 
the guests left, they d go on exactly as they had 
in your presence. 

And of course they had a devotion to one another 
that was one of the beautiful things one could see 
in the world both magnificent to look at, both 
magnificent to listen to, and both really working 
greatly to good ends. This was in every front: the 
house they filled, the gardens, the wine they made, 
the dinners that were planned, the music, if there 
was music, the talk if there was talk. This was 
always first quality. 

Robinson Jeffers 

Pry* Were you ever at their house when Robinson Jeffers 
was there? 

Lehman: Yes, but you know how it is. I never was there 

when he and I, or he and I and Una, or he and I and 
Noel Sullivan, were the only guests. Once or twice 
when there were a good many people around. 

Robin was a friend of mine and had been for 
years, and here were other people who wanted to be 
up next to the great poet, and you don t hang around, 
you see. I suppose that he didn t talk any more 


Lehman: there than elsewhere, and he never talked except 
when he had something to say that interested him. 
Social conversation to fill the time was not his 
style. That s all part of the picture at Tor House 
and at Hollow Hills, where I used to see him in 
later years, far more often than I saw him at The 
Cats, far more often than I saw him at my own house. 

Pry: Could you say something about the apparent contra 
diction of Robinson Jeffers s concern for the human 
race, and the hermit-like life he lived at Tor House? 

Lehman: I think in prefaces to various books I ve said 
everything I could say about that. He thought 
humanity was needless; he thought the universe had 
spawned this mlorobic thing called humanity, 
crawling on the surface of the earth. Himself, his 
adored Una, and his boys, as well as all the rest 
of us. Yet he thought that the human projection 
was not only unnecessary, unneedful, as he once used 
the word, but it was out of line; that the non- 
conscious states of matter were on the line. Shine 
Perishing Republic and dozens of other poems show 
how these things all go together. There s an 
address at the end of that poem to his son.... 

Well, I can summarize this by a quotation. 
People say he didn t talk much. That is quite true, 
he didn t talk in many words, but he said much when 
he talked. One day I was at Tor House. Una hadn t 
come in; she was out, and he and I were alone. I 
was reporting to him the death of a friend, and said 
that in the wake of that death I had a strong 
impression that there d been a family confrontation 
about whether there should be burial or cremation. 
Robin, who was listening in the attentive and kind, 
but apparently inert, way in which he always 
listened, heard everything, said, "I think if any 
body tried to bury my body I would rise up from the 
dead and strike him." 

"I, too, would wish to be cremated." 

He said, "Yes." And he added, "I want to get 
in circulation as soon as possible." 

This is where the two things come together. It s 
a key utterance. 


Lehman: I want to get non-human again, I want to be part 
of the sunrise, part of the wind. 

I remember once I went to spend a few days at 
Hollow Hills, and Sullivan invited Una and Robin 
to come out as they always came out if they had no 
engagement and we had quiet times together, and I 
said to Robin, sitting on the sofa beside him with 
the rum cocktail which was normal for lunch at 
Hollow Hills, "What have you been doing?" 

The answer was, "Oh, I m writing a long poem. 
And when I can think of them I write short ones." 
But he wouldn t go off into Jabber: "I ve written 
a little one about this, and a little one about 
singing rivulets." 

Again I remember, it may have been the same 
day, after lunch, finding myself standing beside 
him in the garden at Hollow Hills and seeing a hawk. 
Well, I knew I didn t have to say, "Robin, see the 
hawk," he saw everything. So I just stood and 
looked at the hawk, and he stood two feet away 
looking at the hawk, and the hawk gradually dis 
appeared and he said, "You know, when they took the 
old roof off the church" the old mission church 
"a couple of months ago, they found the skeleton of 
a hawk trapped under the tiles." I didn t have to 
say anything, I didn t have to ask any questions, 
there it was. This engaged him far more than any 
social event, or even any spat with Una. 

I go back to the twenties, the time of the first 
trip to Ireland. I was down once, and I said some 
thing to the effect of, "I m surprised that you re 
going to take this trip." He d always told me how 
he hated going to the city. 

He said, "I told Una I d go. I said I d go, 
if she would take us. I m willing to look at places 
and things if I don t have to see people." 

So, though they didn t have much money they 
had very little indeed at that stage, because they 
only began to have ample royalties when the Medea 
was acted and published they got on a train in a 
compartment so he wouldn t have to see many people, 
and the trays could be brought in from the diner. 


Lehman: That s very characteristic of him, I think. And In 
a letter to me from Ireland It s In the papers at 
Occidental College he said at the end of a long 
page, "I find traveling more interesting than I had 
expected, but I think staying at home is more 
interesting still." 

Fry: There was no question in his mind about living in 
Ireland, then? 

Lehman: No. I think that was Una s idea insofar as it ever 
was explored. At a later time he went to Ireland, 
after Una s death, at the suggestion of his children, 
and was rather willing to go along. His daughter-in- 
law made all the arrangements. But they didn t stay 
long. They didn t come back so much because he was 
bored, one place and one thing being as good as 
another, but because she was. I think she found it 
less attractive than she had hoped. 

Fry: Has anyone asked you about the influence of not so 
much the Catholic religion, but people who were 
themselves Influenced by it, on Jeffers? 

Lehman: Oh, no. [Laughing] Jeffers, like Whitman and all 
of these people- -Wordsworth had some of it--fell 
into a pantheism, and there s something of that, or 
at least people so disposed can find something of 
that, in the Catholic Church, or in the Catholic 
vision of the world. 

When Robinson Jeffers got to know Sullivan, who 
for some years was alienated from the Church didn t 
go to confession and so on, and then went back with 
a great commitment he was interested in what this 
meant. He spoke of Sullivan s superb intelligence 
in his comment to the press on Sullivan s death. I 
think he was enormously interested in seeing how a 
man of his fascinating rapid intelligence could 
have the ambivalences that Sullivan s intelligence 
had. Sullivan managed to bring into one comprehensive 
conception of the universe views like Jeffers , and 
views like those of the Church of his sister who 
was a nun at Santa Clara and to whom he was absolutely 
devoted. He was a thorough Catholic, but he managed 
all this other. I think Jeffers, in his imaginative, 
compassionate way, was a non-Catholic who managed to 
comprehend that, too. 


Pry i Could you go Into the strain of brutality and sadism 
in Jeffers s poetry? 

Lehman t I can t go into it very far. Jeffers saw, perhaps 

more sharply than most of us, that nature is cruel 
that is to say, that life feeds upon life, and you 
can take the savage view of Jonathan Swift who, 
though a churchman, knew that big fleas have little 
fleas. Jeffers saw that more clearly and more 
Imaginatively than most of us. He also saw that 
In nature a hawk won t kill a pigeon unless it is 
hungry, but in human nature, people will kill 
wantonly. Everything is in its place in nature, and 
some of these things are cruel. 

Robin himself was the kindest and the most com 
passionate of men. He suffered from what he saw as 
much as any of us suffers, and far more than most. 
Sullivan suffered terribly at seeing the misery of 
other people, and indeed perhaps in viewing certain 
miseries in his own situation. Robin and Sullivan 
alike could see that it is a misery to be very poor, 
but they could also see that it is a misery to be 
very rich. And it is also tainted with misery to 
be in the middle and have Just enough. Either of 
them would have underwritten Santayana s remarks 
about love, and Robin s final book covers that. 
Santayana says that if nothing worse happens to 
lovers, they grow old, and one dies before the other. 
All of this is the cruelty Inherent in life, and 
these men either were aware of It, as Sullivan was, 
or brooded on it and made poems. 

You can t expect an artist to be consistent 
all the time. There will be moments in his tempera 
mental life when he comes upon a situation in a 
narrative poem where a horse is flogged, a boy is 
horrified, and at the moment it suits his temperament 
to give this the works. So it seems to bulk larger 
because it is more charged. But the grace and 
benignity of Continent s End, that is the real Robin 
Jeffers at times when he wasn t absolutely torn 
apart by the falsity of the human situation. 

Pry: How did you first meet Robinson Jeffers? 

Lehman: I came home from Europe in 1923 and James Rorty, 
a poet who wrote some pretty good poems and went 
on to become an advertising man, telephoned and 


Lehman: Invited me to come over and have dinner with him and 
a couple of others, and they began telling about a 
book that had been published out here, Roan Stallion. 
"Get it. Don t miss it." So I got it."" 

It had been printed semi-privately, I think, 
and I was much impressed by it, and though I don t 
write fan letters in general I think I ve written 
only two to writers in my life without having other 
wise come to know them (Ethel Sidgwick was the other 
one I wrote to) I thought, the man who publishes 
a book like that under those circumstances, doesn t 
hear too much about it, there d be no critical 
review of any importance, so I ll Just sit down and 
write him a note. I did, and I said, "Sometime when 
I m in Carmel" I used often to go down there 
because I liked the place and the Big Sur before 
it was a highway "I ll stop in." 

Well, I did. Una was there. I said who I was; 
she called Robin, who came down from the little 
attic, and we sat and talked which means that Una 
and I talked, and Robin listened and rarely said 
anything. But there was no mistaking, when I left, 
he shook my hand and said, "I ve been very pleased 
with our hour. Do come back." So I did. And some 
years later, I think a matter of six, I took Sullivan 
there, and that started that relation. 

Fry: But you saw him in the meantime. 

Lehman: Oh, I saw him in the meantime, and much more in 
later years. Sometimes there was correspondence 
about one thing and another, and sometimes a year 
would go by and I wouldn t see them. Occasionally, 
when they were up in town Una let me know, and I 
took them out to dinner. The letters in Bancroft 
have reference to that. Sometimes they came and 
had dinner with me at Tamalpais Road. 

Pry: But he was primarily a listener, and an acute 

Lehman: He didn t make small talk, and it didn t matter. 

I have a good many friends with whom I talk a little, 
and then we sit and think. I often was with Walter 
Morris Hart and we didn t say anything for ten or 
fifteen minutes at a time. You have friends that 


Lehman: you visit or who visit you, and your relation to 

them is like your relation to somebody you ve known 
very well and with whom you ve traveled. You don t 
chatter all the time "Look at this, look at that, 
smell this." You fall back. With Robin the pro 
portion of silence was greater. 

I remember once arriving at Tor House, knocking 
on the door never did it till four o clock, of 
course, because that was their routine and Robin 
opened the door: "Oh, come in." Tony Luhan was 
there. Robin said, "I m glad to see you," and I 
said, "I m glad to be here." Tony was on one side 
of the fireplace, Robin was on the other, and I took 
a chair where I could look out to sea. That was the 
last word said, until I got up, an hour later, and 
said, "This has been very nice," and left. There 
was no conversation. Tony was an Indian, and in 
effect pulled a blanket over his head, and we did 
the same. I watched the sea; Robin probably was 
thinking of a poem, I don t know what; and I ve no 
intuition as to what an Indian thinks about. But 
there we were, three men in a room completely silent, 
and it was fine. 

Pry: Do you think that Una played much of a role in his 
poetry writing? 

Lehman: Oh, yes, he said so himself. He quoted that thing 
about Dorothy Wordsworth: "She gave me ears, she 
gave me eyes, she arranged my life." She was the 
one, you know, when they went down to Big Sur, if 
they saw somebody over in a field she stopped the old 
rattletrap Ford and would draw this fellow out, and 
Robin would listen. She found the stories, and many 
of his preoccupations are doubtless deeply his, but 
she released them. 

She had a wild streak in her, and there was 
something curiously satisfying to her in the roughness, 
the violence, of these stories. I adored her, I 
thought she was an absolutely wonderful dame, exciting 
and interesting, one of the few women who could pour 
out talk and never be dull, one of the few people who 
could pour out talk and never be dull. Sometimes 
suddenly something would outrage her in what she 
herself had said, or something you had said, and she 
would Just slash heads off in every direction. These 


Lehman: figurative creatures would be bleeding to death, 
and Una would get a great boot out of it. At the 
same time, she could weep with sympathy for the 
predlcajnent of a friend. 

Fry: Was she much of a person to become involved with 
social causes or injustices? 

Lehman: I don t think so, though she was violently against 

"liberalism." I think individual people in trouble, 
and the people who called at the house most were 
very simple people who said, "You know what I did 
this morning? I burned the pancakes." Simple, true 
human beings. This is what happened, and let s 
talk about it. She could get on a high horse and 
cut a wide swathe through a carefully constructed 
critical approach to anything. I heard her say to 
a man once, "Maybe I could understand what you say 
in that essay if you could only write," [Laughter] 
She herself wrote admirably, you know. Robin 
published certain selections from her Irish Journals, 
She kept immense Journals I understand, everybody 
she saw, who said what. 

Pry: Jeffers really appreciated her simplicity and 

Lehman: He was completely committed to her, no matter what 
other things may have happened. She was his life. 

A Guest at San Simeon, and Meetings with the 

Grand Duchess Marie, Charlie Chaplin, and Julia 

Bless: Another place and population I hoped you would talk 
about was the Hearst estate at San Simeon. 

Lehman: Did I tell you how I happened to go down there, the 
spats? I think it s one of those charming tales 
that s perhaps too long for this kind of record, 
but still I can t resist it. Sometime in 1928 or 
1929 my son, who was going to school in Berkeley 
and living with me, and was ten years old, wanted 
to have a year with his mother who was (and 1st) 


Lehman: Gladys Lehman, a writer for the movies. And he came 
to spend his vacations with me. 

I was taking him home at the end of his 
Christmas holiday, and for some reason we got off 
in the late afternoon, so we stopped overnight, in 
San Luis Obispo, in the hotel there. When I came 
down in the morning--he had our overnight bagsI 
said, "Carry this around to the garage and wait for 
me at the car while I pay the bill." As I stood at 
the cashier s office, I sensed someone was staring 
at me, and I looked around, a little annoyed, because 
it was a pinning- through stare. It was a very 
elegant chauffeur, who bowed slightly to me, and 
said, "Mr. Hearst s car is ready for you, Sir." 

"Well, I think there s been a mistake, Mr. 
Hearst isn t expecting me." 

"Aren t you Mr. So-and-So?" 

Then he looked, with the dotted line of the 
funny papers, down at my spats I had spats on; it 
was a chilly day and I wore spats and he said, with 
amazement, "You re not?" and he looked at these 
spats again. Apparently the only spats that were 
ever seen in San Luis Obispo were on their way to 
San Simeon. [Laughter] 

So, I told this to my kid, and we went on down 
to his mother s and I went on to the desert for a 
few days. 

When I came back in January, there was a note 
at the house asking me to come down and spend the 
weekend at Montalvo, at Senator Phelan s, and I 
regretted that I didn t feel like it, telephoned 
to that effect, and in half an hour Phelan s 
secretary called back and said, "Mr. Phelan 
especially wants you and wants you Sunday night. 
Mrs. Hearst and the Grand Duchess Marie of Russia 
are coming Sunday for dinner and then the Grand 
Duchess and Mrs. Hearst will go on to San Francisco, 
for the Russian New Year, or some festival, in the 
Russian church up there." 


Lehman: I thought, "This is something, I d like to meet the 
Grand Duchess Marie." I had an image, you see. I d 
read her book. So I went. 

At table I sat a distance from Mrs. Hearst, 
between the Grand Duchess and Maud Symington Pay, 
the one time Munich opera singer, who married 
Captain Powers Symington of our Navy; and so placed 
I didn t say anything to Mrs. Hearst, and when we 
went in for coffee somebody buttonholed me and I 
didn t get over to have just five minute s conversa 
tion. I never had met her, except as she went in. 
So as they were leaving early, I Just made a break 
and told her this story of the spats and she laughed 
and said, "I would like to hear more about how you 
dress when you go to Los Angeles, but I ve got to 
dash on." They left, limousined, chauffeured, man 
on the box, for San Francisco. The next morning I 
went home in time to meet my ten o clock class, and 
that was the end of it. 

Come late May I had a telegram at the house: 
"Dear Professor Lehman, Put on your spats and come 
down for a week, Signed, Millicent Hearst." 
[Laughter] And that s how I got there. [Laughter] 

I had no driver, so I borrowed a chauffeur from 
one of my friends and drove down. 

And, of course, San Simeon wasn t what it now 
is. It was still, in the late twenties, much in 
the making. The elaborations around the pool for 
instance weren t there. Many of the things weren t 
yet built. Some of the things weren t in order, 
and some of the things were being changed. They 
were planting, bringing in enormous trees in boxes 
eight and ten feet square, six and seven feet deep. 

But that first visit was a good visit. There 
were only four of us there to start, but the first 
afternoon on that great paradis in front of the 
church house Mrs. Hearst said, "Whom shall we have 
for dinner tomorrow night?" 

Wishing to be frivolous, I said, "Charlie 


Lehman: "Fine." So, we gathered up a list of quite an 

interesting group of people we d like to have, and 
she put her foot round and stepped on a button in 
the marble floor and a man in a white coat came and 
she said oh, she had had a paper and pencil with 
her and she had written these names down "Give this 
to so-and-so" (her secretary, I suppose) "and have 
her put them through to me here. Bring me an 

A telephone was plugged in and everybody was 
persuaded to come. Planes were made available to 
some of them [laughing], and then they were met in 
San Luis Obispo. We had a wonderful weekend, and 
after that we were quiet, six or eight of us, for 
four or five days. 

She was a woman, very, very lovely to look at, 
delightful to listen to her voice was very engaging 
with a very easygoing warmth, and altogether fun 
to talk with. Pleasantly amused about the place, 
willing to show people around Mr. Hearst wasn t 
there and I never saw him in my life. In those 
days she didn t go there anymore when he was there, 
because he wouldn t go, I was told, unless Marion 
Davies was there, and Mrs. Hearst wouldn t be there 
at the same time. 

She showed us around the place with an amused 
sense of things. She also made everything available 
in a sort of casual way cars, horses, guides in the 
hills if you wanted them. She was willing to talk 
about a Vermeer or an ancient Greek vase, you know, 
but liked the world, and laughter, and people, and 
games. Charlie Chaplin started us off on a game 
that he had lately discovered in which somebody was 
appointed the word-caller and said to each person 
round, "Beauty" (to see if he could get a response, 
from you, without you being inhibited, or "Sex," or 
"Ambition"). To find out which one you stopped at, 
he had a little watch, and perhaps peoples responses 
were two seconds, and then suddenly they couldn t say 
anything for seven seconds, because the word hooked 
into something. Oh, we didn t psych one another this 
was just good fun. 

But the place was fantastically elaborate in 
certain areas by any scale that I knew. Just about 


Lehman: what everyone sees now, the long dining room, the 
wonderful arrangements of bathing suits of every 
kind in the marble spaces for dressing rooms around 
the pool, the nice horses to ride. 

Bless: Did you spend much time there? 

Lehman: I stayed there a week then, and I went back once, I 
think the next year, or perhaps nine or ten months 
later. My strong impression is of the glorious site 
and the Arabian Nights kind of treatment of it. 
Obviously Hearst was a man of great imagination in 
almost all fields, and I think that "Citizen Kane" 
movie was probably right: he had lost something in 
his childhood which he was looking for, or at least 
that seemed a reasonable explanation. This was an 
enormous toy. 

I remember one morning on one of those two 
visits coming around the side of the church and the 
workmen chiselling a space beside a large aperture 
for a window. And then I saw there was a stone, 
sculptured grille down below. The workmen were 
working away, and down in back of me was a young 
man, not in workman s clothes. I said to him who 
I was, and he said I m so-and-so, "Miss Julia 
Morgan s assistant." 

"What are they doing? What are you doing?" 

"Mr. Hearst decided that that window was two 
inches too far to the left," in this enormous 
space," and he s having it moved. He thought the 
proportions weren t very good. I think he was 
right," he said, "he s amazing. 11 

It was that kind of thing, you see. These 
craftsmen would be working there for a fortnight 
moving a window two inches, where no one but he 
would ever take note. 

Riess: Was Julia Morgan on the scene a lot of the time? 

Lehman: No, she wasn t on the scene there at all when I was 

there. I knew her elsewhere. Actually, she was with 
Mrs. Hearst and the Grand Duchess Marie of Russia at 
Montalvo that night. 


Lehman: The Grand Duchess, In the longer opportunity I had 
sitting beside her at dinner she had asked Senator 
Phelan to put her near somebody who knew the 
University said she wanted to see the University 
and she said she wanted to see it incognito. I 
said, "Well, come to lunch on Wednesday." 

And she said, "But not at your house; I know 
plenty of houses of people with intellectual 
interests. I would like to go to lunch in one of 
the places where the University people students, 
faculty, clerks lunch," 

So it was arranged that she and Julia Morgan 
Mrs. Hearst by this time would be on her way to 
New York would come to lunch. This was confirmed 
to me and I arranged at The Black Sheep, which was 
then in a little building up behind the shoe shop 
Just outside Sather Gate, where the Administration 
Building now is. I arranged with Pritzie Zuckerman, 
who is now retired and perhaps sold out of it, and 
who was then young in it to do this. And I wanted it 
to be interesting and good, but I didn t want it to 
be exploited, so I said to Pritzie, "Now, in confidence 
I ll tell you whom I m bringing, and then you act 
accordingly. If there are students coming for lunch 
then" this was to be at one o clock "have them in 
the same room with us." 

Well, it was arranged, and the luncheon was 
excellent, with Julia Morgan, the Grand Duchess, Bull 
Durham, and two more I ve forgotten, six of us. It 
was all very quiet. There were two people I d never 
seen over at a table to the right. And of course, 
the next night, in the Oakland Tribune a long squib, 
greatly to the credit of The Black Sheep, you see, 
giving it such publicity as it had never had before 
or since [laughter], that the Grand Duchess Marie had 
asked to be taken there to lunch, and so on. 

As I said, Julia Morgan was there, and her 
brother, who had some kind of extreme mental shyness 
or maybe worse, but who was a good driver and drove 
her, was at the wheel that day. Julia Morgan went 
with him about the campus after lunch, and the Grand 
Duchess came with me to the stacks in the Library. 

The Grand Duchess was much impressed with the 
University, its situation, its accommodations, its 


Lehman: enterprises, and very intelligent about them. We 
had a long afternoon of it, and I remember it all 
with interest and pleasure. And then through that 
I came to know her somewhat; she came to luncheon 
with me several times once in Berkeley again, once 
in San Francisco at a restaurant after her son s 
marriage, or misalliance, with that girl in 
Scandinavia somewhere. She was very bitter about 

Then, of course, she was out lecturing, and I 
remember introducing her in Oakland for the Oakland 
Forum at a lecture which she gave in the Auditorium 
after her autobiography had come out. She was on 
tour, making money as she could. That was before 
she settled down as a dress designer, or consultant, 
or whatever, at Bendel s in New York. She dis 
appeared from my ken, then; I think she married in 
South America somewhere. But I remember the night 
of the Oakland lecture we stood in the wings, or 
Just off the wings, waiting to go on, and a police 
man came up and made some remarks that suggested 
things that I could hardly believe. I turned to 
him and said, "Are you implying a threat of violence 
to the Grand Duchess?" 

"Yes, that s what I ve Just been saying." 

I said to her, "Do you want to go out under 
these circumstances?" 

"I knew of it," she said, "I have a steel 
corset on." 

I said, "Well, I haven t, and your head isn t 
in a cast, you know." 

"Never mind, we ll go." 

There was nothing to it, of course, but some 
crank had written a letter and she had been informed, 
and that devil-may-care thing that s in a true 
aristocrat arose in her. I remember that. [Laughter] 

Riessi Julia Morgan s work at Hearst Castle interests me. 
You said it went on over thirty years. I know she 
wasn t doing that exclusively, but do you think she 




Lehman : 



felt it was a worthwhile enough piece of architecture 
to put all that time into? 

I don t know how much it was the worthwhileness. It 
was a clear, over-all Job; it was a place for her 
brother; I think it had a stability in it that a 
woman as architect wasn t so likely to get by herself, 
She had built a good many buildings. She had built 
the original Walter Morris Hart house; she built 
this house we are sitting in; she built other houses 
I know of in San Francisco. But it may be that she 
wasn t steadily busy. I don t know what it was, she 

never spoke of that sort of thing, 
unassertive, clear-eyed woman. 

She was a small, 

I think she liked what she did there. I know 
she got telegrams from Hearst; she used to tell 
amusedly of a telegram I ve forgotten the exact 
content, but "arrange receive four crated lions, 
have lion house ready, shipped this morning." 
[Laughter] This kind of thing amused her. She liked 
some of the special problems. The last time I saw 
her she said she was very busy designing a giraffe 
house. Then, of course, she advised about the place 
ment of furniture, sometimes went to the great 
storehouses where Hearst had millions of dollars 
worth of antique curiosities piled up, to find things 
to take out to furnish the rooms. 

So, it could be satisfying. 

I think it was. I don t think she was a knuckler-under 
to anybody, and I don t think that he had any power 
to coerce. 

Will you comment more on Charlie Chaplin too? 

Well, I ve run into him over the years in a great 
many places; I haven t seen him, of course, since he 
left the country. He came to The Cats, Sara Bard 
Field s house, I think once. I met him a number of 
times at Hollow Hills. I saw him once in Berkeley. 

I saw him once for a long afternoon after lunch 
down in one of those houses on the cliffs south of 
Carmel where he was a lunch guest and I was, too. 
My son, who was then sixteen and six feet three, and 
the very image of young boy growing into young man, 


Lehman: was with me. Chaplin oame over and said, "Come, and 
sit with me." It was a buffet. Then there was a 
fourth place right out over the ocean on this beautiful 
terrace. "Who will we get for there?" 

"You get him." 

So, he went and got Molly O Shea, if I remember 
rightly, the painter s wife. 

Chaplin always was a good talker. He had an 
enthusiastic and eager mind; it wasn t as disciplined 
as his sense of visual art or sense of movement was 
disciplined. In short, to the academic mind it seemed 
a little reckless, but it was devoted to the common 
good. In all his thinking, whether he was talking 
economics, or architecture for private housing, or 
the Invasion of the wilderness by roads, it was 
always, "What would be good in the long range..." 
for what he knew as a boy, the East End of London, 
the people there who didn t get out, what would be 
good for such. 

He was enormously social-minded, and of course 
because of this perhaps dreamy recklessness he 
didn t have to make this thing work, a little like 
Goldwater [laughter] many people said, "He s a 
radical," "he s a crypto- Communist," all that thing. 
But he was of great charm, and of course when he was 
out on his own conditioned activity he was marvelous. 

I remember sitting one night until three or four 
in the morning, Judith Anderson, I, Noel Sullivan, 
and he, after a big party at Hollow Hills. We were 
staying there, Miss Anderson and I in the house, and 
he didn t know it and he was waiting for her to go, 
then he would go. And we were getting tired, but he 
wasn t, and he was filling in the time with one 
incredible mimicry after another, talking personalities 
and then projecting them, being reminded by something 
in the projection of someone else, and projecting it. 
An imitation of John Barrymore waking up from a 
drunken stupor; another imitation of John Barrymore 
giving an imitation of a nervous, amateur actor 
speaking the "to be or not to be" soliloquy and 
getting caught on a little dry mucosa from the 
nostril, and rolling it in on his thumb and trying 
to get rid of it while he said the lines [laughing], 


Lehriani so vulgar, and yet so brilliantly pure, you can t 

imagine. Well, this was the sort of thing that was 
going on all the time. 

He was good in talk, eager, inquiring. Col 
leagues of mine at the University have told me of 
being on a train before we all went by plane from 
New York or Chicago and Chaplin was on it. If he 
was in a stateroom, with a secretary, he would send 
the secretary through the train: "If you see any 
body who is reading an interesting book, bring him 
in." The secretary would bring Professor X or 
Professor Y in, and he would sit and talk with them 
for an hour. Sometimes he d talk to people, but 
mostly he d talk with them; nothing like, "I m one 
of the great geniuses of the world," except to 
illustrate it when he got going as a mimic. 

Riess: The autobiography, Chaplin, apparently suggests that 
it was very Important to him to be surrounded by 

Lehman: Well, you could get him anytime, that way. You 
couldn t get him by telephone, but you could get 
him by a note or a letter and say, "On Friday, 
so-and-so is coming to lunch, or dinner. I think 
you d like him." And he d turn up, not to be 
impressive, but to take in, or to exchange, in part 
at least. 


Captions for the three pages of illustrations following 
(read left to right, top to bottom). 

page A. (4* 

1. Benjamin, Walter, and Harry Lehman, ca. 1903 

2. Benjaminj Harry, and Walter Lehman, ca. 1908 

3. Gustus Larson, Benjamin Lehman, and George Hall, Priest 
Lake, Idaho, ca. 1912 

page B. 

1. Benjamin Lehman, Helen Hayes, and Noel Sullivan, Montalvo, 
ca. 1928 

2. drawing for a sculpture head of Benjamin Lehman, 1925 

3. house at #97 Tamalpais Road, Berkeley 

4. Charles Chaplin and Charles Erskine Scott Wood, at Noel 
Sullivan s House, Hollow Hills, mid thirties 

page C. 

1. Benjamin Lehman, 1956 

2. sculpture head of Benjamin Lehman, 1925 

3. Hayfield House, Saratoga 

(Following page 132) 





Lehman: I should like to talk a little bit more about Noel 
Sullivan,* who, as a third-generation Californian 
of Irish extraction, stood in my mind for something 
very special in the way of cultivation, civilization-- 
as both cultivation and civilization can, in special 
cases, come into focus in what was still, at the 
beginning of this century, a pioneer country. 

That this impression I have is not merely 
personal, but was the impression of good Judges 
and distinguished intelligences, will be clear I 
think from the statements made to the press in 
September 1956 at the time of Sullivan s death. 

Martin Flavin, in the Monterey Peninsula Herald, 
September 17, 1956, made the following statement: 
"The best man I ever knew died last night. The 
kindest, most generous and most tolerant. He was 
expendable in the interest of his friends, of the 
poor and the oppressed, the lonely and the unhappy. 
Suffering was unendurable to him, whether of man or 
beast. He lived for people, unsparing of himself, 
and I think he died for them." 

This is Martin Flavin s statement, and the 
extreme implications of the last clause "I think 
he died for them" should perhaps have an immediate 
comment. The august reference to Jesus dying for 
humanity has a very sharp focus, for Sullivan died 
a devout Catholic, and was constantly aware not only 
of the suffering of his contemporaries, but carried 
as an atmosphere in his mind always the suffering 
of Jesus upon the cross. The sense in which Flavin 
means he died for people is that he expended himself 
to the very end, exhausted his heart muscle, found 
himself gradually, fatally, deprived of oxygen by 
the failure of that muscle. He was a strong,, he 
was even a tough, organism. But no human organism 
could stand the strain that he put upon his own. 
He reduced his sleep to nothing in the interests of 

*See p. 109, 


Lehman: wakeful attention to friends and to acquaintances 

and to those unknown- to-him people whom acquaintances 
and friends called to his attention. It is in some 
such sense as this that Martin Flavin, the dramatist 
and publicist, used the words, "He died for them." 

I come now to a statement Robinson Jeff ers 
made at the time of Sullivan s death. (I read from 
the newspaper, The Pine Cone. September 20, 1956, 
Carmel.) "We think first of Noel Sullivan s goodness, 
his kindness and compassion and generosity, his wide 
and deep sympathies. He was like a saint, and like 
a saint he was capable of sudden rages against 
injustice, but if the persecutors had been laid at 
his mercy he would have forgiven them. Then we think 
of Noel s understanding, his rapid and fascinating 
intelligence; he never had time to read, but by 
instinct or through conversation he knew all that 
was going on. We think of his deep interest in the 
arts, but especially in music; we think of his far- 
flung friendships, here and in Europe, his devotion 
to his friends, and his hospitality. And there 
was a kind of magnificence in his life and mind the 
word is too pompous, but it says what I mean that 
cannot be forgotten. When I heard of his death it 
was as if a tower had fallen. He has left us and 
we shall never know another like him." So Jeff ers 
speaks, within a few hours of the death of a man who 
was one of his dearest, his closest, friends. 

The Sullivan-Phelan Family Background 

To me the significance of Sullivan is partly 
in terms of the man simply as himself, as a phenomenon 
anywhere, anytime. But it is much more a phenomenon 
in terms of this Western fringe of the American 
civilization In the first half, approximately, of 
the twentieth century, for Sullivan s grandfather 
was an immigrant from Ireland who settled in Brooklyn, 
who, hearing of gold in California, brought his stock 
of hardware across the Isthmus and up to California 
and set up in business in San Francisco. Successively, 
without going into mining, he acquired properties, 
made great gains, set up a bank, and died, I think, in 


Lehman t the 1890s, leaving a very large fortune, perhaps 
of the order of twenty millions. 

That first Irish Immigrant, James Phelan, had 
three children. Margaret Phelan, Aunt Molly, or 
"Aunt Ma," as she was called In the family, was a 
neurotic of wealth, and narrow, shallow Interest, 
a woman that many people would have found verging 
on the stupid. 

A second child of the original James Phelan 
was James Phelan, Senator J.D. Phelan. J.D. Phelan 
was a man of great abilities. He came successively 
through the mayoralty of San Francisco and the 
Senatorship for California in Washington until 1920. 
He was generous and imaginative in his generosities. 
When other people made contributions of a few 
thousand, or at most a couple of tens of thousands 
for the Opera House or the Veterans Memorial, he 
gave half a million. He was steadily conscious of 
the predicament of the gifted who had not financial 
freedom to pursue the development of their talent, 
and so from his young manhood up he was perpetually 
handing out subventions to writers, painters, to 
sculptors, and, rarely, to musicians. The difficulty 
in all this was that his Judgment of talent was 

Riess: How did these people reach him? 

Lehman: Appeals, direct because of his reputation as a 

patron of the arts, but more commonly through people 
like his friends, Gertrude Atherton, Ruth Comfort 
Mitchell, Erskine Scott Wood, or people who knew 
young artists. But Phelan did tend to support the 
second-rate and the third-rate talent. The very 
daring, the very original talent, a Jeffers, for 
instance, would not have spoken to him as needing, 
or deserving, subvention, at the very beginning. His 
own poems, of which there are a few published, are 
imitative, derivative, and [laughing] really childish 
in outlook and emotional quality. 

Nonetheless, because he gathered round him the 
artists in California who had achieved, men like 
Markham, women like Gertrude Atherton, and because 
he loved hospitality in the great Irish way, and had, 
both in the city on Washington Street and here in 


Lehman: Saratoga at Montalvo, the means of gathering people 

together, feeding them, housing them, he had, without 
ever raising the level of conversation to high 
intellectual levels, or dropping it into insight 
into serious creative processes, he had, nonetheless, 
an effect. 

[Added May 1968] Talking of Phelan, I missed 
any reference to Maud Pay, but perhaps it could be 
entered here. Maud Pay was a member of a large 
Irish clan in San Francisco. Her older brother 
Charles had been Phelan s campaign manager, I think, 
or treasurer, for his campaign running for the 
Senate. They were both Irish families and Phelan s 
interest in them was real and deep and I think he 
facilitated Maud Fay s going to study singing in 
Europe. She became, in the opera at Munich, one of 
the great divas of the first and second decades of 
this century. She sang in Mozart operas, and I 
believe she created one of the less phenomenal 
roles in a Richard Strauss opera. She moved in high 
society among the princes and the wealthy, and there 
were rumors that her relations with one of the 
princes were rather intimate. 

In any case, when the war broke out in 
or at least by the time we went into the war she 
came back to America. She was still Miss Maud Fay. 
And she was engaged to sing at the opera, the 
Metropolitan. I know nothing about that except what 
I ve heard out here and part of that is what she 
herself told me. She said that the war had so damaged 
her voice without her knowing it that when she walked 
on stage and opened her mouth, nothing came out. Now, 
whatever the facts are, it s plain that she gave up 
singing. In later years, when the opera became an 
important cultural phenomenon in San Francisco, she 
sometimes gave discussions of the operas and hummed 
a tune here and there. But she never sang again, so 
far as I heard. 

She was a vivid, beguiling, enormously responsive 
person, and one of the best story tellers, especially 
if the story opened a place in which she could shine, 
I ve ever heard. One saw her everywhere, making 
parties successes, making herself a great success, 
by virtue of being a great state presence, which 
she had been, but also by virtue of being, by this 


Lehman: time, the wife of Pete Symington. Symington had 

been in our Navy and had moved way up. I think he 
was a rear admiral, although he had retired, and 
had to return to service I think he was a rear 
admiral in the Second World War. In any case, he s 
a member of the Baltimore-Missouri Symington family, 
an uncle of the Senator, and a swell, swell human 
being. Everyone was glad to have Pete and everyone 
was delighted, of course, with Maud Fay. At 
Montalvo, at Hyde Street in Sullivan s house, at 
Mrs. Ellis s in Berkeley, you were as likely to 
find her as not to find her on all occasions. She 
was devoted to music and followed it round. Did 
I already tell about her coming with Roland Hayes 
after a concert? 

Roland Hayes sang a concert in Wheeler Hall at 
the very end of his active career. Roland Hayes was 
a friend of mine of thirty years standing twenty, 
anyway and I invited him to supper after the con 
cert, and some people to meet him. At the concert 
I found Maud Pay and Pete Symington, husband and 
wife. "This is delightful, come up for supper after 
the concert. Roland has consented to lengthen his 
day." After the concert people began to arrive and 
presently Maud Pay arrived, and no Pete Symington. 
Maud stayed three-quarters of an hour and moved 
out. She said good-bye. She was alone. I said, 
I ll see you to your car." (She had said Pete hadn t 
felt very well when I asked where he was.) 

"I ll see you to your car," I said, assuming 
that if he wasn t driving there was a driver. When 
I got out there, there was Pete sitting behind the 
wheel. I said, "You don t look sick to me, but this 
is a bad light." 

"I m not sick. What did Maud tell you?" 
"She said you weren t feeling very well." 

"Well," he said, "I never feel very well when 
I have to meet a Negro socially. I m from Baltimore." 
Nonetheless, he was a great guy. 

But that is relevant perhaps to a history of 
those things in these parts. 


fliess: Was there a reason for Phelan s not sponsoring 

Lehman: I once asked Sullivan who was a very fine musician 
and we ll come to that I once asked him what his 
uncle and his aunt had in the way of a music Interest, 
and he said, in his characteristic, ironic fashion, 
"Well, you know, they like hearing what they have 
heard before." [Laughter] They were, then, Just 
people with some sense of rhythm, some sense of pitch, 
no doubt, who liked the familiar, and enjoyed states 
of being which returned them to their past. 

Riess: What was Senator Phelan s wife like? 

Lehman; There was no wife. He never married, which is part 
of the story here. We are still thinking of old 
James Phelan s children, you see, Molly, and the 
Senator. The Senator was Noel Sullivan s uncle. 
So that Phelan was all the better for these social 
and eleemosynary purposes because he had no family. 
Phelan never married. 

In the Phelan papers, which I have deposited 
in The Bancroft Library, there is some evidence that 
there were extended liaisons, especially in his 
younger years, and it was always thought and for 
this kind of record I think It not Inappropriate to 
say so it was always thought that Mrs. Downey Harvey 
was the love of his life in later years. She, and 
her daughter Genevieve, and Noel Sullivan, for 
instance, went with Senator Phelan round the world, 
in great panoply, with private trains in Asia, I 
heard, and all the rest of it after Senator Phelan 
left the Senate, in the early 1920s. 

One more evidence, besides such incidental 
documentation as would turn up in the enormous number 
of papers at the University, is that in his will he 
was careful to protect his estate from possible 
claimants in the form of illegitimate children, 
leaving a dollar, or whatever the sum was, to each 
such person who should prove his illegitimate 
derivation. [Laughter] It s the regular procedure 
of the wealthy bachelor; it s the legal protection 
for the true heirs, perhaps. 




Lehman t 

Well, Phelan, then, had no children, and this Is 
relevant because It left Sullivan In a very special 
place. I go back, now, to old James Phelan who 
came from Brooklyn In the middle of the 19th century. 
He had a second daughter, Alice. Alice Phelan 
married Francis 3ulllvan. 

Francis Sullivan was a member of a most dis 
tinguished Irish family, at least In the sense of 
religious affiliation. Francis Sullivan s father 
had to come to California after inquiring where in 
America the Church, the Catholic Church, had the 
strongest and most pervasive Influence on the local 
civilization. He was told that it was In California 
he would find this, going all the way back to the 
Spanish oonquistadores, and the Padres. 

A very large family of children was born to 
this original Sullivan, Francis Sullivan s father 
here in California, sons and daughters. It became 
a family also of wealth, but it gave its wealth 
largely to the Church. In any case, Francis Sullivan 
married Alice Phelan, and of that marriage were born 
three daughters, and one son. The son was the 
youngest. This was Noel. 

The eldest daughter, known in later years by 
her husband s name, was Alyce Murphy. She was a 
kind, sweet, aspiring woman, but dull, having some 
thing perhaps even of the neurosis of her Aunt Molly. 

What kind of a quality was this? 

What kind of a 

I don t know; in the case of Aunt Ma it seemed to 
come of her spins terhood in an age when this was a 
disreputable state, and perhaps was involved with 
imaginings that she could never realize, you see. 
In the case of Alyce Murphy, who married and had 
three children, my impression is that it arose from 
a great deal of frustration. She had "inklings 11 
without the imaginative power to make any realization 
she had inklings of what the life of the mind, the 
life of the emotions, all these things, were. She 
had enormous executive skill. She managed her estates, 
in due course, with great ability. No one I ve ever 
known was better at planning and carrying out a 
wedding, as for instance, for her daughters, or a big 

Lehman: party. Then she would talk like any Irishwoman off 
a remote farm In the west of Ireland, without that 
woman s laughter, because she hadn t much humor. 

After Alyce there was another daughter, Ada, 
who is Mother Agnes of the Carmelite monasteries. 
She early had a vocation to the monastic life, and 
had been a major ornament of it in America and 
indeed in the Catholic world anywhere, having 
founded, sometimes with the help of the family but 
mostly by handling her own resources, a half-dozen 
Carmelite monasteries. One of them at Santa Clara 
here is the monastery in which Noel Sullivan and 
his mother are buried, down the road here. A 
beautiful mind, a beautiful spirit, an extraordinarily 
gifted human being, with, one gathers, the highest 
physical beauty. 

Once, when Mother Augustine, who was the Mother 
that brought this community out from Boston where 
Ada Sullivan entered the monastery, was celebrating 
her Jubilee, her 50th anniversary in the monastery, 
and I went to the speak room, and the curtain was 
drawn and the nuns were sitting there with their 
veils (except Mother Augustine, who, since it was 
her Jubilee, raised her veil, so that you could see 
the magnificent old face), I ventured to suggest to 
Sullivan, who was with me, that Mother Augustine 
would do me a favor on her 50th anniversary and ask 
Mother Agnes, Ada Sullivan, to raise her veil. Ada 
Sullivan was loathe to, but Mother reached over and 
lifted the veil carefully from over her face: the 
most beautiful eyes, violet they seemed in the speak 
room light, the most exquisite face I ever saw in my 
life, glowing beauty, even in a woman in her fifties 
then. Well, she had some quality that presently 
emerged in Sullivan. 

There was another sister, Gladys, who married 
and had many children, and who had laughter and wit 
and sharp intelligence, a delightful human being 
with a talent for life. 

And here, among these three daughters, you had 
the whole range, the whole spectrum of possibility 
in three children of a marriage that itself I think 
had some pretty rough spots, that between Alice 
Phelan and Francis Sullivan. In any case, the 

Lehman: youngest of the children was Noel Sullivan, and he 
combined all the admirable things that were in all 
the others. When Noel Sullivan died, I was on the 
East Coast, and a friend of mine in California, 
knowing that I was a close friend of his, wrote me 
of his death, and said approximately this: "Who can 
say what ancient kings, what ancient poets, what 
ancient Irish greatness, lying dormant through many 
centuries, emerged in that man." He had all the best 
qualities that the family had, and something beyond 
that, some brilliance of intelligence, some leaping 
power of intuition that I ve never known in any other 
human being. 

I think he was away in Europe at the time when 
his mother developed a tumor on the brain. In those 
days those things weren t well handled and she died 
when he was around twenty. Her estate was divided 
equally, one-half to the husband, and the income of 
one-half to the four children, and from that time 
on they had their own income. They were not, of 
course, as large incomes as they would be in later 
years, when the father died, and the aunt and the 
uncle died, but they were substantial. 

Hiess: You spoke about the Catholicism. I wonder if we 

could go back to the influence of Francis Sullivan. 

Lehman: All the Sullivans were regular Catholics, and I 
never knew how much was pro forma in the father, 
Francis Sullivan, and how much of it was real devout- 
ness, but the mother, Alice Phelan, was a truly 
devout Catholic, and the thing in her that was so 
devout became concentrated, you see, in the one 
daughter who became a nun. Sullivan was very devout 
in his earlier years, and then for a decade or more 
was a negligent Catholic. Then in his last fifteen 
years or so he went back to the most devout attitudes 
and practices. 

Riess: Was that decade abroad? 

Lehman: It overlapped, I think. After the war he amplified 
his life in Paris, and he came home every once in a 
while for two or three months to see his sisters and 
his friends here. 

But it was Elsie Arden, who had been born a 
Catholic, who wedged him away from it for the time 


Lehman: being. She herself later went back to full devotion 
and full piety, and he went back. So It was that 
period after the war until sometime In the thirties 
that he was, If not alienated, his gaze at least was 
averted from the Church, in spite of the fact that 
his sister was a nun and he was absolutely devoted 
to her, and concealed from her his doubts, his 
turning away in that period. She never knew of it, 
I m sure. 

Rless: As the son in the family was it hoped he would 
become a priest? 

Lehman: Oh, I think that was talked of, and that he played 

with the idea. But I think it was simply an exercise 
of the imagination. I think it didn t represent any 
actual prompting at all. No, I don t think so. 

Hi ess: At his mother s death he left California? 

Lehman: Yes, when he had money he went back to Paris. He 
piled up enormous debts, which his uncle paid off 
once, and then he had a lot of them left when his 
father died, and they had to be paid off. Up in the 
many hundreds of thousands he owed the banks, but 
since it was known that he was the heir to many 
millions, in real estate and holdings, banks carried 
these, and the interest always got paid. He was in 
debt in those years and often spoke of it to me. 

Living Abroad and Studying Voice 

Sullivan had lived in Paris off and on, traveled 
a great deal and the family always traveled in style, 
with couriers and maids and valets; not like many 
Calif ornians, you know, who felt all that was putting 
on the dogs. They believed in being comfortable 
among the people who went to the kinds of hotels 
they went to. Even private cars were not out in the 
very beginning. (Later, actually, Phelan had a whole 
train take them ut> into China when they were traveling 
around the world.) 

When, after his mother s death, Noel went to 
live in Paris, he opened an apartment which became 


Lehman: one of the hospitality centers of that hospitable 
oity. Long before I met him in California in the 
late 1920s, I heard about him whenever I went to 
Europe. I remember once in Florence, and again in 
Vienna, with different people, and later in London, 
and in Edinburgh, being asked at dinner parties, 
when I said I came from California, "Oh, do you 
know Noel Sullivan?" Everyone was impressed with 
him, even in his early twenties, impressed by his 

Riess: Was this before the war? 

Lehman* He was born in 1890, and yes, he was there in 1912, 
or so. Then he was in the war, and his letters to 
his uncle and family are published and are in the 
Bancroft Library. 

Riess: I looked at the book, Somewhere in France, and noted 
some questions. He mentions that he is first earning 
money on his own, and beginning to appreciate other 
sides to life, and that he feels fluent for the first 
time, in conversations with the drivers 

Lehman: In French. 

Hless: No, I thought what was intimated was that he felt 

at ease and able to talk with these people less well 
educated, presumably, than himself. 

Lehman: It may well be, because he did grow up wrapped in 
cotton batting, you know, as the only son of the 
Sullivans and the only grandson of James Phelan. 
They had a great sense of protecting him. His mother 
idolized him this extraordinary accident that he 
was born on Christmas Day, hence the name Noel, you 
see so that she felt something very special about 
him. All that Catholic thing transmuted into the 
family guardianship of the rare creature. And, of 
course, he was very delicate. He was always somewhat 
effeminate. This was part of it; it was one of the 
things he laughed about. 

Riess: His Jesuit education, did this tend to insulate him 

Lehman: I couldn t say about that. They made him a very he 
had the native gift, of course but they helped him 


Lehman: to become a very precise user of language. In a 

way he was, what Adlai Stevenson said of Churchill, 
on a smaller scale: "a lord of language." It was 
the greatest satisfaction to listen. So that the 
Jesuits helped do that for him by the close study 
of Latin. He was always aware of that and he kept 
his Latin In his mind. Yet his speech was not 
Latlnate; It was Anglo-Saxon. 

Riess: This hesitancy was a real respect for language. 
Lehman: Respect for language and respect for your thought. 

He was one of the most articulate people I 
ever knew. He could after great hesitation, like 
the hesitation that I remember Santayana had he 
could find the right word. There was nothing he 
couldn t phrase, though he might sound as though he 
were stumbling into it. This was so from the first 
years I knew him, the late twenties on. It was the 
thing of getting into the sentence where you can say 
this, or this, or this, or this: which is the true 
thing. And you , "Uh, uh, uh, uh. 11 This 
Santayana had, you know, and it s what struck me 
in the second semester of my freshman year when, 
beginning with Descartes, Santayana lectured to 
thirty of us on the history of modern philosophy, 
and he d sit up there behind the desk and half the 
hour went into the H uh H sounds, but the rest of it 
was magic, so that gradually, even at seventeen, you 
didn t hear the "uh" at all, you Just heard the rest, 
with the blanks cancelled. 

Well, with this precision and control of English, 
which could range all the way from raucous laughter 
to the most refined, spiritual statement, with this 
precision in him, as a talent and partly already as 
a practice in his early twenties, he went to Prance 
and determined to learn French that way. French had 
been a nursery language, but that s not the thing. 
What he was after was something else. In the Sullivan 
papers, which also I ve given to the Bancroft Library, 
there are a great many letters from Alexandre, the 
great actor of the Comedie Francaise, who as a young 
man undertook to teach Sullivan pronunciation, 
intonation, and the very tune and Intellectual fiber 
of the French, and this went on in twice-a-week 
lessons for years, and then gradually a great deal 

Lehman: of companionship with Alexandra and his wife, from 

whom there are also a hundred letters in the Bancroft. 
She was an actress, also at the Corned! e Francalse. 
For Sullivan, then, this was one Interest. The other 
was music. 

Sullivan had a superb bass voice. He had a 
very deficient sense of rhythm, or perhaps It s 
more honest to say, a rather solemn and somber 
rhythm predominated, a sense of the woe, a sense of 
the sufferings on the cross might be in it, you see. 
Perhaps It also came from his slow speech and his 
looking for the right word always. But wherever it 
came from, this rhythm predominated, so that unless 
he had an enormously skillful accompanist, like 
Elizabeth Alexander, who forced another rhythm on 
him, or drew him into it, there was a certain monotony 
in the singing. But there was great beauty in the 
voice, in narrow range, and he had great power to 
project the special emotion implicit in the great 
German lieder particularly, but in the French ones 
also, exactly as they should be projected. And he 
was always studious of the test of a song. 

Anyway, the Paris time was the time of learning 
French, the time of learning and hearing the great 
music, going to Bayreuth, for instance, for every 
single performance, every year. It was also a time 
of getting to know the most brilliant and vivid 
people who came and went in the European scene, 
particularly if they had anything in common with 
America. So, in the letters and in the address books 
in the Bancroft, scores of these people emerge for 
a moment. All this was built up in the early twenties, 
And among these people was Elsie Arden, who was the 
woman in his life from beginning to end. 

Rless: Was this group he came to know in Paris in any way 
a heritage of the people surrounding Phelan? 

Lehman: No, for at that stage, of course, Phelan hadn t been 
in the Senate, was Just beginning to build Montalvo 
over here in Saratoga, was living with his sister in 
the city, and was still a man building up an inherited 
fortune into a greater fortune, and still concerned 
about the affairs of San Francisco, getting rid of 
corruption in government, you see, getting a beautiful 
city built, causing Burnham and the other architects 


Lehman: in Chicago to make a plan for San Francisco. Phelan 
was all here, and he was all a man of affairs, full 
of local pride, full of California pride. But this 
period we are speaking of was way back in 1912 and 
1913, before the war. When I say the early twenties, 
this was when the Sullivan thing in Paris flowered, 
but in the beginning, in 1912, he was learning music 
and learning French and building up this web of 
relationships. Then the war came and he was in the 
army, and the letters show how that was. 

But before that he met Elsie Arden, and she was 
an education! She was an education for anyone. She 
was like a north wind, but benign. She had a most 
beautiful singing voice, a most beautiful speaking 
voice. She was a big woman, but she was a vroman of 
beauty, a wit, learned, uninhibited. She was born, 
I think, in San Diego. She married a realtor in 
San Diego and realized in the second year that that 
was not for her. She wasn t going to spend her life, 
she once said to me, prying him out from behind the 
open newspaper. So she went off to Paris and studied 
singing, met Sullivan, and there s an astounding 
correspondence, a couple of thousand letters, sealed 
for the time being, since she was completely unin 
hibited, said anything, and said it about people, 
with names. But this went on, then, from the time 
he met her, early in the second decade of the century, 
down to her death, which was a half-dozen years before 
his death. 

Hiess: With what aims did he begin the singing? 

Lehman: The aims were he once laughingly granted, when I 

ribbed him a little about it the aims were love of 
music, pleasant and creative ways of filling odd 
hours, having an accompanist sit around and wait 
until he got through his conversation at four when 
he told her that he would sing at two, pleasant ways 
of filling the day with creative things. 

Vanity I kidded him about it once and, "Oh," 
he said, "I m a great show-off, I know that." I 
remember one night in the Hyde Street house (2323 
Hyde), built by Mrs. Robert Louis Stevenson, one 
night there, after the opera, we brought Elisabeth 
Hethberg, and I don t know who-all, home from the 
opera for supper at twelve o clock; and after supper, 


Lehman: at two o clock in the morning Betty Alexander was 
there Noel sang for these people. [Laughter] And 
he sang very movingly. 

I was sitting by Rethberg, than whom there can 
be nothing greater, and I said to her, "Now, what 
do you think about that?" [Laughing] And she said, 
"I ve heard much better singing and much worse 
singing in the opera house, but I ve rarely heard 
such good singing or understanding of what a song 
is about. What she meant was that he really got it 
over in spite of bad breathing or whatever. 

Rless: I would have thought him too modest a man for this 
kind of performing. 

Lehmant Well, now, modesty is a curious phenomenon, I think. 
He was a modest man, but he knew his gifts. He 
knew how he could think round most people, how he 
had intuitions beyond the reach of most people, and 
he knew that people were impressed if he gathered 
fifty people together and had Roland Hayes sing for 
them in the first part of the evening and he sang 
for them after supper. He liked it, partly because 
it exposed his weakness as well as his strength. 

In that period he developed all kinds of 
interests and became enormously interested in the 
abolition of capital punishment, in the predicament 
of the disinherited, the Negro, the homosexual; all 
of these people, all of these groups got his atten 
tion, his absorbed interest. The idea of any man 
being hanged, or having to look forward to the 
termination of life by violence at a given moment, 
was a horror to him so that he could hardly breathe 
I remember this very well on the mornings when he 
knew from the paper the day before that someone was 
to be hanged at nine o clock. And the gas chamber 
later was the same. In anybody less imaginative, 
and anybody less ready to act in the matter for he 
did act in it, without success you would have thought 
this was neurotic, some phoney identification. But 
in him it wasn t. It was pure, true humanity. 

The same thing was true for the Negroes, long 
before anyone else was bothering about the matter. 
It was one of the things that first attracted me to 
him, since it had been my interest since college when 

Lehman: I first knew Alain Locke, the Negro philosonher (who 
became the first Negro Rhodes Scholar) at Harvard. 
What attracted me In part was Sullivan s Interest 
in the predicament of the Negroes. I introduced 
him to Alain Locke, Langston Hughes and some others. 
He introduced me to Roland Hayes, and Roland Hayes 
had first sung for an American for a fee in Noel 
Sullivan s apartment in Paris. Partly through Hayes, 
but In general, he had interested himself in the 
Negro situation. This all, you see, fifty years 
before everybody began to do something about it. 

fiiess: What really sparked his interest? 

Lehman: I think it was this great gift he had of compassion 
for the disinherited. He was always aware of the 
accidental quality of "having inherited," and 
"having" wealth was an accident. Well, then, being 
disinherited is also an accident. This was his way 
of seeing it. So he was always willing to share, 
and of course shared to the point, sometimes, of 
getting himself into debt or temporary impoverish 
ment. [Laughing] 

Riess: This is the kind of thing that could have been a 
neurotic concern in some people, a sense of guilt 
about having all this wealth. 

Lehman: Of course, if that drifts towards neurosis; in his 
case laughter and irony saved him because he was 
the greatest ironist. Jeffers once said to me that 
Sullivan had the greatest sense of irony of anybody 
he d ever known, and very few writers that I have 
read had a comparable one, and this I think will be 
clear in the little memoir that he wrote about his 
sister there are only twenty copies of that, and 
I m giving mine to the Bancroft Library, not to be 
made a public thing during Mother Agnes s lifetime. 
The irony has saved him here, you see, from neurosis. 
He would, with deprecating, compassionate laughter, 
speaking of a situation in which he d been able to 
help, say, "I sit on the verge of trembling when I 
think that it is I, and not someone else, who has 
the responsibility of lending this aid." He had a 
great sense of responsibility in this, and a great 
awareness that someone else with the same money 
might not have done it, and that perhaps he wasn t 
doing it wisely. And how do you know whether when you 
give you help people, or corrupt them? 

Comments on Sullivan s Interests as a Calif ornian 

Riess: Before I really got into the chronology, I would 

have assumed that Sullivan really patterned his life 
and activities on those of his uncle, but their 
activities seem to have been quite different. 

Lehman: I think the amplitude, by 1920, of the life at 

Mental vo, seemed enviable to Sullivan, and seemed 
desirable to move toward. But the level of person 
ality factors and intelligences and creative gifts 
seemed to him too low. So that when, presently, he 
developed the life at his place, "Hollow Hills," 
down in the Carmel Valley, he mixed the highest 
gifts and the most negligible, or the absence of 
gifts, and had a talent for doing that which amounted 
to genius. 

Whereas Phelan got for a weekend the people who 
were already established and the talk then was what 
such talk is. If Phelan wanted to corral the 
beginners, the also-rans, the defeated, he simply 
invited P.E.N. the poets, essayists, novelists 
writing group he simply invited the president of 
P.E.N. to bring everybody to lunch on Sunday. So 
120 people would lunch on the terraces up there. 
Of course, he couldn t talk to more than a half 
dozen of them. He was a witty man, and a charming 
man, and gracious, enjoying seeing them all around, 
hoped they were having good drinks, hoped they were 
having good food, hoped they were having a good time. 
But this was not for Sullivan. 

Sullivan wanted the thing small enough so that 
he could be in and out of it at every point, and if 
he put together some gifted of whom he knew plenty 
some gifted, neurotic, perverse temperaments, along 
with the Jefferses and Martin Flavin and Langston 
Hughes well, the letters would indicate the list 
[laughing], Bruno Walter, for instance, Rethberg, 
any of these people mixed and making a vibrant 
yeast, everything rising all the time, unforgettable 
things said, Insights flashing past you so that a 
week later it had changed your whole life. 

Hiess: The downtrodden, were they interesting people? 


Lehman: Yes, partly because they engaged his interest, tartly 
because it s good for all of us to realize how nearly 
any one of us missed it. I mean, Just a little 
difference. "There but for the grace of God go I," 
I think that many of us felt that this was an 
illustration of that great phenomenon. If you, your 
self, had some achievement to your credit, if one 
had, oneself, some distinction acquired, it was only 
the kaleidoscopic turn that made that come about, 
instead of this. You saw people with grace and 
qualities, who had never done anything. Defeated 
by it, perhaps a little neurotic, fussing, over- 
explaining, apologizing. "What am I doing here?" 
"Isn t Mr. Sullivan good to ask the likes of me?" 
I can remember things like that. 

Others, then, getting into the name-dropping 
business as I [laughing] might seem to be in it 
right now! 

Riess: I wondered whether it brought out the best in people, 
whether they bloomed under this care and sponsorship. 

Lehman: I think it brought out the best in most people all 

the time, the distinguished and the not-distinguished. 
I think on the other hand, sometimes, it brought out 
the worst. You saw envy, you saw corruption, really. 
I often cringed at the kind of though I knew perfectly 
well Sullivan saw around it and through it compliment 
I heard him paid, or paid to his rich friends, in the 
expectation of future largesse or support. This is 
never pleasant to see. So, it brought out the best, 
it brought out the worst, but I think that most 
people in his presence were themselves, and I think 
this was one of the ways in which his essential gift 
could be described, that he didn t pull people out 
of character in general, that he created an atmosphere 
and beamed out an attitude toward people that made 
them content to be themselves, so that in his presence, 
for the first time in my life, I heard a man say, 
"Well, you know I m a homosexual," not with respect 
to any situation, you see " and I take this view of 
this because of that." It was only in his world 
that that could be said in those days. 

I remember once talking to a man at lunch one 
weekend down there, and it was a very interesting 
talk about Italian origins. He was a man with an 


Lehman: Italian name, and I think that s how we got on It, 
the name. Presently he said something very sharp 
about, I think, crime. "Now, how do you come to 
know that?" He said, "You know, I m on parole to 
Mr. Sullivan from dan Quentin. I was in on a murder 
charge." [Laughing] i don t think for most of us this 
would have happened. Most of the talk was about 
the forms and Ideas of literature, the forms and 
experiences of music, of painting, personalities, 
religion, these were the great subjects. Yet every 
where these other things were freely said. 

This began fifty years from the pioneer activity 
out here, and has something to do with the special 
quality of that family inheritance as suggested by 
his two sisters, as against the third. It has some 
thing to do with the special quality of that family; 
it has something to do with the special gifts of 
this man; but it also is somehow tied up, In my 
mind, with the thing that happened here in San 
Francisco, the creative freedom. One has only to 
remind oneself that there arced out of San Francisco 
people like David Warfield, like Paul Whiteman, like 
Isadora Duncan, like Maude Allan, by the score. 
Somehow there was a vibrance. 

Riess: For Sullivan didn t it come from Paris? 

Lehman: I think it was always going on, when he studied at 
Santa Clara, when he studied at the University of 
San Francisco. I think it was always going on, though 
it was in Paris that it was finally unleashed. When 
did David Warfield become the great actor? Here in 
San Francisco? When did David Belasco become the 
great direcor of theater? In New York or here? 
Actually, he proved it in New York. And Sullivan 
proved it in Paris and then California. But it seems 
to me that there was an emancipating if I can use 
that without a political intonation an emancipating 
thing here. I think the manuscript of Marian Parson s 
autobiography in the Bancroft gives on a very bourgeois 
level, curious indications of that. The thing that 
makes an Ansel Adams, for instance, that all seems 
to me part of some ebullience, some effervescence on 
the surface, and underneath, some creative charging; 
in short, I don t believe that if Sullivan and Mother 
Agnes had turned up in Keokuk, Iowa, the same thing 


Lehman: could have happened. There s something about the 
mountains, something about looking out from your 
windows when you re a boy, and seeing Tamalpais, 
Diablo, the Coast Ranges, the water, the sea climbing 
to Asia. There s something about what s downtown. 
And I think the earthquake and the fire had something 
to do with it. That released an enormous recon 
structive energy. I think people partook of that 
in and for themselves. 

Hiess: It s Interesting to think about the loss of the 
Actors Workshop now, etc. 

Lehman: Well, Just this morning s paper [29 January 1965] 
the White House goes down, the Actors Workshop goes 
down, and the First National Bank. You ve got it 
at every level, in the fiscal, in the art world, in 
the merchandising-industrial world. Perhaps this is 
Just a symbolic group of three on a given day, but 
maybe we are coming to a change, going to shed now, 
drop, lose. Losing the Workshop is too bad, and of 
course it s a great sorrow to me because I have a 
feeling that all of that ferment began at U.C. when 
we started the Department of Dramatic Arts. There 
were no important things going on here, and now there 
are scores of theater activities. 

We may be coming into a new phase, and if that 
is true, it adds to the value of the study of a 
family like the Phelan-Sullivan phenomenon, which 
now apparently is over. (Although there is one niece 
of Sullivan s whose husband is ambassador to Ghana. 
At home they live in Phoenix where he is an attorney, 
and she may have some of that and it may come out 
again. ) But I think of it with the 100th anniversary 
of the Chronicle, and Mike deYoung, with all the 
rough stuff in that legend, his three lovely and 
beneficent daughters, now very old women, my friend 
Helen Cameron, and Mrs. Thieriot, who s the mother 
of the editor and publisher now. The Chronicle 
stayed for a hundred years, beginning in a way very 
different from the mode of these last years when they 
stood by the faculty on the loyalty oath, you know, 
on the liberal side in all these important things. 

And then that curious thing: here are these 
Irish, and here is Helen Cameron, whose father was a 
Jew. Mike deYoung was a Jew. William Denman, the 


Lehman: great Judge In our courts here, said to me once, 
"What made San Francisco was the place In Its 
relation to California, the Coast, and Its relation 
to the Orient, and the Irish and the Jews. They are 
the ones who made all the creative things." Now, I 
don t think that s quite true [laughing]; it was a 
nice thing to say after dinner. But there Is this 
possibility; certainly it is somewhat true. 

I think that sometime someone looking into the 
Sullivan materials and the Phelan materials, which 
are fuller than most such, will see the phenomenon. 
Perhaps the Sullivan materials are the fullest that 
ever were made in the West of such range. The 
papers of Hiram Johnson and Senator Phelan are more 
extensive than the papers of Noel Sullivan, but the 
range of Interests and expressiveness and variety 
of life and the audacity of attitudes is by no means 
so great in those as will be revealed in the Sullivan 
papers . 

Coir conversation about Noel Sullivan must get 
clearly into the record the fact that he was a most 
complex human being, a member of a wealthy California 
family that seemed to be middle-class in its attitudes, 
and yet he was an aristocrat if one ever in one s 
life has seen one. Ella Young, the Irish poet, has 
said of him that he was descended from the king of 
the O Sulllvan clan, and a complete throwback, and 
this was the impression of many people and is the 
impression of Jeffers and Martin Flavin; it lies 
behind what they said about him at the time of his 
death. He had, as all great kingly figures have, 
and his wealth contributed to that klngliness, a 
great compassion for the lowly that came within his 
sight, within his vision, and he also, then, was 
able, because he was a man with extraordinary imagi 
nation, to extend that and generalize It beyond the 
areas . 

As I said, the brutality of capital punishment 
was a thing against which he worked lifelong. That 
is now an issue, in the 1960s, but he, in the 1920s, 
spent his energy, his planning power, and his wealth 
toward that. The same thing is true about the Negro, 
the same thing is true about the Japanese- or Chinese- 
Americans, or Chinese and Japanese in America. And 

Lehman: It was true about a minority group like the homo 
sexuals. So that when his personal attitudes, or 
gearing, were Involved, as some people said in the 
case of homosexuality, you see, it was not, as it 
might have been with another person, a development 
of arguments in favor of a condition or a human 
group or a human practice; it was something quite 
different from that, it was one more manifestation 
of the misunderstood and the excluded to which he 
gave his attention. The life that flowed through 
his house included Negroes, and it Included two men 
who had served long sentences for murder, one of 
whom was paroled to him, and it Included of course 
Japanese and Chinese and the homosexuals too. Whether 
they got into trouble or had been in trouble was 
never an issue really. The point is that everybody 
was welcome because everybody was human. 

Another of the extraordinary things in the man 
was that people didn t have to be brilliant or dis 
tinguished. He could elicit from any human being 
the evidences of humanity, and every human being 
became, In his neighborhood, interesting. 

Riessi Was he interested in large philanthropies, like 
symphonies and museums? 

Lehman: Museums Interested him much less, in fact for dona 
tion purposes practically not at all, though he was 
pleased that his uncle had left things to the Palace 
of the Legion of Honor. His Interest was in music, 
and although he would help with the orchestra and 
help with the opera by donations, they were not the 
great and spectacular donations that some people 
made, because his interest was in developing opera 
singers, his interest was in developing musicians. 
So he provided for many people personal scholarships 
to go study singing with Elena Gerhardt in London, 
to be coached for operatic roles by Lotte Lehmann 
in Santa Barbara. After humanity, music was his 
great passion. 

He did himself have a great many pictures, a 
Matisse, a Sargent, and so on, and these hung on the 
walls of his house together with quite negligible and 
sometimes very bad things which he put up because the 
person who had given them was happy to see them on 
that wall, or because they had for him some sentimental 
visual connection, a bit of Paris in a watercolor that 


Lehman wasn t very good. Or because the artists themselves 
had given them after he had backed them for a while, 
and then they found them somewhere, in the halls, in 
the entrance way, in the great drawing room at 
Hollow Hills, or the music room. But it wasn t a 
point of his life, I think, to collect pictures, he 
Just had some which he liked. He wasn t a maker of 
a collection. He made nothing of his backing of 
the singers or the other musicians. He was Just 
happy to do it. 

Riess: Did he make an effort to bring art and music to 

some of these unhappy or impoverished people around 

Lehman Only in the sense that some of the best concerts 

in the world were given in his music room at Hollow 
Hills and earlier in his music room at 2323 Hyde 
Street and that the people who would not have been 
interested or who could not have afforded a ticket 
to an opera would be among his guests. So a very 
musical and very aged Negro woman was invited one 
night to a post-opera party in Hyde Street and four 
or five different people sang, some of them opera 
singers he made this experience available to that 
woman, it was one of the things she wanted to do all 
her life. I remember Roland Hayes singing a whole 
program, as I remember many other great artists 
doing, in the music room at Hollow Hills, and all 
sorts of people were invited, fifty, sixty, a hundred, 
and no class, no social stratification was a guide 
to who should be invited. But there was never any 
thing like setting up a quartet to go around and 
play in Chico and Milpitas. 

Rless: [Laughter] I see. In the Jeffers obituary was the 
comment that he didn t read much. He didn t write 
many letters either, it appeared. 

Lehman: Jeffers was very precise; he said he never had time 
to read. Sullivan was so busy with music, with 
people, with talk, with good works... For instance, 
the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals 
would get him out at two o clock in the morning to 
handle some situation. "Man or beast," it said in 
Flavin s statement; well, this was true. Or, he 
might have everything knocked into a cocked hat 
because of the predicament of somebody he d never 


Lehman: heard of, but who was known through an acquaintance. 
The long correspondence, which began perfectly 
accidentally, with a woman in British Columbia who 
came down to save, I think, a clergyman for being 
hanged for murder, this went on for years, and 
absorbed him. There were letters written, brief 
ones, or telegrams, and we don t have copies. 

And he wrote a few long letters. When he wrote 
a long letter (like the letter of which I think 
there s a copy in the Bancroft Library papers), to 
Sister Madaleva, about Clare Boothe Luce as a 
Catholic, it was dozens of close-packed pages of 
the sharpest kind of reasonings, the most audacious 

He didn t have time to read, yet he really read 
a great deal, and he had a great gift for reading 
here and there in a book and then getting the rest 
out of Jeffers, or me, or Langs ton Hughes, or anybody 
who had read it. He was Indeed all this sounds 
adulatory, but I do not believe it is he was a prince, 
and princes never have time to read much. But he had 
a genius like that of princes for eliciting from other 
people in a few sentences what it took them a few 
days to acquire. 

The things that he read he read again and again 
and again. After I introduced him to Santayana he d 
never read any Santayana gave him a copy of the 
Soliloquies in England, he kept it by his bedside, 
and he d read one of them and re-read it, over a 
period of years maybe a hundred times. So, he did 
the kind of reading that sharpened the instrument which 
was his mind and his intuition, you see. But he 
didn t do the kind of reading that is a substitute 
for direct living, which is what many people do. 
People who are great readers don t have time for 
endless talk. Now, since he was interested in person 
ality, in character, in people in that sense, and had 
this extraordinary intuition of what was going on 
in them, three hours with a person was better than 
three hours with a book, especially if that person 
was in a complicated situation or of a complicated 
nature . 

Riess: Did his precision with language and interest in it 

Inspire a like precision in people he was talking to? 


Lehman: I think In some. There was a woman whom I shall 
not name, her sentences were train wrecks, her 
language was overcooked spaghetti these things all 
had once been strings, but they were Just a mass of 
dough. (I always had the impression that I shouldn t 
in a thousand years find the image which did the Job, 
which said what her talk was like.) Yet every once 
in a while she made some revelation, usually of a 
gossiping sort, that you d never get from anyone 
else. She was a pitiful person, really, separated 
from her husband, struggling to keep a respectable 
picture of her relation with her children before the 
children and before the little friendly public, and 
also trying to conceal the fact that she was living 
with or took as a lover a gifted, but unperforming, 
young middlewesterner, thirty years younger than she 
was. All of this, you see, and then this pouring out 
of patchouli. 

Sullivan always welcomed her, when she came, 
and often invited her out of friendliness, out of 
compassion, but also out of interest she was human 
too. And it is true that nothing human was foreign 
to him, was alien to him. 

After Phelan died, when the estates were so 
involved and Sullivan suddenly had no income, though 
it was thought that he would suddenly be rich, you 
see this was the depth of the Depression he closed 
the house on Hyde Street which was very expensive 
to run. That great house at 2323 Hyde Street that 
Mrs. Stevenson had built to which his mother had 
added so that the nuns could make a monastery there 
before they built the one down here at Santa Clara, 
to which his father had added, to which he finally 
added a fourth story, that great house looking down 
over the Bay, was too expensive to run. So he 
bought a small place for I think $2600 down in Carmel, 
on Carmello Street, and lived there with a single 
servant, and had small groups, four or six at most, 
and mostly coming in for dinner or for lunch, not 
staying at the house as he had been accustomed to 
having people do. I remember a night there with 
Jeffers, and Mrs. Jeffers, and Mabel Luhan and Tony 
Luhan and Dorothy Brett, the painter. The one servant 
cooking the dinner for us. A marvelous evening of 
talk, and character revelation. 


Lehman: What brings me to this is that in that period he 

read; he read all the works of Willa Gather through, 
one after another, because it was a way of economizing. 
He bought a book which took him two evenings to read, 
Instead of spending sixty dollars feeding twenty 
people and giving them drinks. 

Rless: He didn t have to feed them. 

Lehman: That is true, but you get the habit of hospitality, 
and especially if you have that reputation, and 
then also especially if you live in the country. 

In any case, he had read enough. And, he had 
gone endlessly to theater. He knew all the great 
work for the theater, the Shakespeare canon, the 
Racine, the Corneille, the classic things that you 
oould see. He d heard all the great music in the 
world, in Berlin, in Bayreuth, in Rome, in New York, 
in Paris and he d heard the great church music from 
Solesmes, where they sing the plainsong, on the 
Sarthe River in Prance, northwest of Paris, to the 
great singing in St. Peter s. 

He had, as a little boy of ten or twelve he 
describes it in his memoir of his sister had an 
audience with Pope Leo and remembers Pope Leo putting 
his arm round his shoulder. And then, one Pope after 
another. In 1950 he flew to Rome simply for "the 
closing of the doors" in Holy Year and had another 
audience with the Pope, kept his relation to this. But 
this all involved music. 

It also Involved great art experiences. He d 
seen all the pictures of the world, gone everywhere, 
and could remember them; he d had an experience of 
them, could relate to them, reflected upon them. 
Nobody ever, more often, Illumined a picture for me, 
though I have from childhood up been accustomed to 
looking at Dflrers and whatnot, you know. 

Riessi Oh, it does sound like he could take things in. 

Lehman: This is what Jeffers means he got it all. By 

instinct or through conversation he knew all that 
was going on. 


Hiess: I d like to know more specifically unless this is 

the information easily gotten at in his papers what 
he did in the anti-capital punishment work, and for 
Negroes, and also his relations with the University, 
what his benefactions might have been there and to 
other large institutions. 

Lehman: He did very little for the University. I think I 

said, in connection with Sara Bard Field and Erskine 
Scott Wood, that they, when Ella Young came, were 
much enamoured of her, as they should have been; so 
was Noel, so was I, she was a remarkable woman. 
She s the Irish poet and writer; there s a whole 
shelf of her books in the Library. She was run out 
of Ireland because of her connections with the 
rebellions, the Black and Tan stuff and all that, 
and she came to Canada. She was brought into this 
country through the good offices of Garret McEnerney- 
who was one of the Regents of the University and 
Erskine Scott Wood. And she was an Irish genius. 
She had much of Noel Sullivan s qualities, but 
without wealth and without the range oh, no range 
at all, really but a wonderful Irishry, marvelous! 
Beautiful, in a wizened way (because she was already 
in her sixties by that time), and with intuitions 
of the wee folk, the fairies. She had a personal 
attendant who was from the fairy world and who was 
always mislaying her glasses, and so on. The fey 
attendant was called Gilpin. I ve been with her on 
Point Lobos when she Just went up and became part of 
the trunk of a tree, Just leaned against it and then 
turned round and said in that fantastically moving 
voice, "The spirits speak here." Bloodcurdling I 
"I hear Gilpln." 

Well, Ella Young, Just about the time Phelan 
died, succeeded in leaving the impression with Sara 
and Erskine that she was a great Celtic scholar. 
As a matter of fact, In the scholarly sense, she 
knew almost no Celtic; she had picked up words in 
the west of Ireland. But she was a great narrator, 
a great theater personality though she never was 
in the theater, as her sister was. Noel Sullivan 
was persuaded then to set her up as James D. Phelan 
Lecturer in Celtic Literature at the University, and 
to give her a salary and an amount of money for 
books, because in the Celtic field we didn t have 


Lehman: But he did this before he discovered that the Phelan 
estate, from which he should have had perhaps a 
hundred thousand dollars a year income, wouldn t 
be paying any for ten years. So he wasn t able to 
keep it up. His idea originally was to "endow" a 
Phelan lectureship, but it wasn t done. He did give 
that money for the books and he did pay her salary 
for five years, or maybe it was three. And from 
time to time he made small gifts, as his uncle had, 
to the Phelan writing fellowships and things like 
that. But his gifts were in other directions. 

Bless: I saw some correspondence with Popper on the 

Committee on Arts and Lectures and I wondered if 
he had suggested people to them. 

Lehman: I think he did that, and I think from time to time 
was this one of the cases when he offered Roland 
Hayes or Langston Hughes as lecturer? He often 
caused people to be invited by giving the money. 
They were distinguished, good people; the Universities 
were glad to have them. Stanford, or Mills, or U.C., 
when they had a letter from him saying that he would 
foot the bill, would invite Lotte Lehmann, for instance, 
to sing. He paid the fee. So there was a lot of that 
sort of thing, but not on the grand endowment scale. 
As a matter of fact, he could never afford it, doing 
the other things that he did. He spent a small 
fortune trying to abolish capital punishment, and 
didn t succeed. 

Hiess: To do such a thing for Lotte Lehmann would be not for 
financial reward, but to expose people to her? 

Lehman: Because he thought, and quite rightly as we now see 
In retrospect, that she was the greatest lleder 
singer of our time, and he wanted everybody who 
loved music all around the Bay to have the opportunity 
to hear her. Of course he also had a certain power 

Lotte Lehmann yearned to be made a doctor of 
music, or doctor of laws, or something, by a 
university, and he worked very hard to bring that 
about. Our University rule that we never gave degrees 
to performers was against it, though the committee on 
honorary degrees recognized that she was one of the 
great ones. Though a degree had been given to Alfred 


Lehman: Hertz, It was not with the lively expectation that 
he would leave his fortune to the University, which 
he did; it was an honest award, but a different 
thing; he had created an orchestra, and he had 
filled steadily over twenty years the ear of the 
whole Bay Area with great music. That was different 
from Just being a performer. 

But Sullivan did want to see Lotte Lehmann get 
her heart s desire; it wasn t that he wanted it, 
but that she wanted it and he wanted it for her. Of 
course he was devoted to her; as the letters show 
Lotte unquestionably, and as I saw with my own eyes, 
was infatuated with him for years. I remember one 
night we went to some music, she and her companion- 
secretary, and Sullivan and I. She was taking the 
midnight train from San Francisco for the East, and 
we went to supper at the St. Francis. We were sitting 
around the table, and I talked to her companion Just 
the four of us there Sullivan was talking to her, 
and this was very quiet soft talk between Lotte and 
Noel, and then suddenly, after perhaps half an hour 
or forty minutes, she sighed, and turned to me and 
said "Vhy vill you not" that accent "tell me how 
to handle this man?" 

And I said, "To what purpose?" 

"To love me." 

And I said, "Why don t you try me? M 

"No, you re too easy." [Laughter] So there, 
that s one of those little breaking waves that come 
to the top from the deep sea. 

Personal and Religious Life 

Riess: Why didn t Sullivan marry? 

Lehman: Nowadays we speak of these things easily he was 

totally uninterested in women physically. I m sure 
that whatever that mixture is among sexual promptings, 
it was very heavily loaded on the homosexual side in 





him. He always said It was, and spoke about It as 
frankly and clinically as a doctor might and 
certainly people who were Indubitably In that group 
came and went In his world. I always thought that 
this was part of his humanity. They were at that 
time particularly an excluded and despised minority. 
Now Just what his relations with Elsie Arden were 
on that front, I don t know. He never spoke of that. 
I never asked. It seemed perfectly Irrelevant, as 
It usually does when you know people. You don t 
press In those matters unless the thing for some 
reason becomes critical. 

But Elsie, to her death, was the great Interest, 
the great communicant. There was telephoning across 
the continent when that was possible, earlier only 
the endless letters. 

Doesn t the Catholic Church make homosexuality a 
difficult thing to come to terms with If you are 

I don t know, I Just supposed It came under the 
confessional of sin If It was a matter of practice, 
but otherwise It fits, doesn t It, into the very 
structure of the Church? The endless celibacy of 
the monk and the priest, the nun. They must long ago 
have recognized that they got a great many people with 
strange promptings who found their way to riding above 
them, past them, through them, within those disciplines. 
So I don t think the Catholic Church made it difficult; 
I think they found a way of using it. But I m sure 
that if adultery and a thousand sins can be denonimated 
and forgiven, that whatever was sinful in connection 
with this the state of being can t be sinful, it s 
Just In the act then I suppose the Church with what 
ever penances could find a way of forgiving it. It 
must have heard of it certainly. 

I was not aware of this for many years, but then 
I began, as the term began to emerge into common 
everyday-use, I began to hear of people, who were 
friends who came and went, who had Sullivan and others 
to dinner, begin to say these things. Once the thing 
came up he said, "Yes, why not, I have no interest." 

Somehow, though, this bare, almost naked state 
ment about homosexuality cannot stand this way because 


Lehman: It Is not true to the facts, apart from the fact 
that it would annoy or grieve some of his kin. 
What I want to get In about Sullivan Is that he was 
an Immensely Intricate person. I don t say complicated 
because It went far beyond that In the variety of 
promptings that constituted his nature and It went 
far beyond that In the subtlety of the manifestations. 

He began life as a devout Catholic and for 
some years thought of himself as moving Into the 
monastic life. Living a long life, or a fairly long 
life then, unmarried, he was in a sense in the 
monastery. Whatever his relations with Elsie Arden 
were over thirty years, (and the Church is very good 
at managing these contradictions) fitted into that 
because for the most part he lived this monastic 

I remember a long evening talk with half a 
dozen after dinner when we were talking about the 
Greek way of life, and it began with discussion of 
the world of ideas as Plato conceived it. The dis 
cussion came round to this matter of the Greek efebre, 
and he said, laughing, "There was nothing very damag 
ing In that; I m here to prove it," letting it go at 
that. It needs to be in the mind of anyone who might 
some day read this that thirty and forty years ago 
these manifestations were disapproved and condemned 
and were not recognized as reasonable manifestations 
of the psyche among people who had reputable and 
creative places In our society. The shift there has 
been very, very considerable. 

When I grew up the only words I knew for people 
like that were condemnatory slang words. By the 
1920s and 1930s I occasionally ran into the technical 
word, the homosexual. Then gradually these phenomena 
came up so that you could have Truman Capote actually 
called that in the public press. Whoever attempted 
to give an account of what Sullivan was and what 
he stood for would have to know that that was a 
different time, one in which these words had different 

Riess: Do you think that his ability to embrace many points 

of view, all kinds of people and talents and humanity, 
represented an inability to really commit himself, 
that perhaps he would like to have found one thing to 
direct himself to? 





Well, I don t think it was an inability to commit 
himself. He began, of course, I think uncertain if 
not confused as a boy, in the teens, in a family 
full of middle-class attitudes and deep Catholic 
commitments. He began in that way and didn t dis 
cover until he was resident in Paris after his 
mother died, that he really had a glorious bass 
voice. I think that his life for a long while was 
a discovery of a thing to which he could commit him 

He committed himself to the interplay of human 
relations, to being useful it s too cheap, too low 
grade to say "doing good," but that s what it always 
amounted to, as Martin Flavin and Robinson Jeffers 
also made clear in those obituaries. His commitment 
was to that and then he found, at the end of his 
life, that that was too exhausting, too taxing upon 
his resources, because he was perpetually having to 
invade capital to do the things that he felt obliged 
to do out of human decency, out of sharing, prompting 
impulses, and too exhausting to his personal strength, 
so that he died really young, considering his heredity 
and his opportunities to live well. He slept too 
little, he saw too many people, he worked too hard 
at the things that seemed to him worth doing. 

You spoke once of his "need to impoverish himself 
as a drive. 

I think that comes from way back, from the days when 
he thought seriously of becoming a member of a 
Catholic order. I think that though sometimes the 
idea of being a priest the server of the Mass becoming 
the priest of the Mass, because he had been an acolyte 
as a boy was there, I think more often instead of 
thinking of himself as serving the Mass and perhaps 
hearing confessions he thought of himself in monastic 

He did, as I said earlier, live personally a 
quite monastic life. He lived in a very small bedroom 
and a small bath which was his place, and there was 
space there for his dogs who came and lay in their 
baskets at night, for one or two family pictures, but 
the whole thing, in a vast house, was the size of a 
cubicle. He never spent any money on himself. He 


Lehman: would walk up to Foreman- Clark s for clothes, for 

Riess: Was he religious to the extent of having, for 
instance, an altar in his room? 

Lehman: He began by being very, very religious, and all his 
life, even in the period when he was alienated more 
or less from the Church and certainly didn t go to 
confession for a long period, in that period of 
course he had the things a Catholic had, a crucifix 
above the bed, a rosary hanging on the bedpost. He 
went back to the Church with the profoundest commit 
ment, as I have hitherto said, he went back to the 
Church and made an enormous, long confession, a 
series of confessions to cover the years when he had 
not gone, and from that time on was serious. 

Earlier he didn t have an altar in his house 
but he built a chapel on his grounds in Carmel 
Valley, a chapel, properly consecrated, to which I 
have seen monks who were staying there for it was 
a wayside house for any traveling monastic go at 
four o clock in the morning. Hearing people pass 
my cottage I would look out and see the monks in 
white robes going down to their four o clock "office." 
He himself, in those later years, would pray there 
with the profoundest sense of experience, coming 
home from the opera, coming home from dinner parties, 
and rise and go there for prayer before breakfast, 
before he saw anyone. 

Riess: To what degree do you think he could really have 
lived alone? 

Lehman: My guess is that the personal austerities of the 

little cell which he called his bedroom was Juxtaposed 
with the elaborateness of his social life. In the 
social life all kinds came. Then he withdrew into 
this other thing, which was celibate and monastic and 
for that he didn t find the cell of a room satisfactory, 
so he built the chapel. 

I think he found a way of handling the paradox. 
He had an absolute love of people and a passion to 
see them interplay, a passion for probing the depths 
of character, of temperament, and he had a passion 


Lehman: for seeing how these things clashed; he was an Ideal 
host In part because he loved to put people together 
who struck sparks from one another. People who 
never saw him close to would say he was gregarious. 
As a matter of fact, he withdrew and was by himself. 

He liked, for instance, to take two dogs and 
go down to the beach in Carmel at four or five in 
the morning and spend three hours by himself walking 
up and down beside the waves, reflecting upon, 
attempting to understand, what perhaps he had seen 
the night before at a dinner party or a concert, or 
over a longer period of time. I think I ve never 
known anybody, even in the academic world where such 
people are supposed to abound, I ve never known any 
body who reflected upon experience so much, who 
attempted to probe beneath the surface in all kinds 
of things. For me, who had the great good fortune, 
for instance, to know a man like Walter Morris Hart, 
once vice-president of the University, my colleague 
in the English Department, and my friend from 1920 
until he died a few years ago at 92, well for me who 
knew people like that, Sullivan was still something 
extraordinarily special. 

The mind dwells on him; stimulated in a way by 
what he was, one tries to understand how this came 
about and how it functioned, and the questions you 
ask are enormously to the point, of course. But he 
managed solitude in a throng, and he would have 
managed it, I m sure, if he had been far less wealthy, 
if he had had moderate means. He could have managed 
somehow to bring people together to see this thing 
happen. And it was all in a way an extension of a 
profound religious prompting, for to know what God 
hath wrought in human nature, in human character, in 
human temperament, was a deep preoccupation. 

Hiess: Yet he is only going to be known through these 

memories of yours, and other incidental memories, 
isn t he? 

Lehman: There is a memoir, of a couple of hundred pages, of 

his sister, of which only a few copies were printed, 
of which I have one. I edited it for him. And 
perhaps on that ground, perhaps on the ground of old 
friendship, he gave me a copy. It will not be available 
to read during the lifetime of Mother Agnes, his sister 


Lehman: down at the Santa Clara Monastery; I ve asked to 
have it sealed against that time. So that there 
would be that evidence of how he wrote. But the 
magic of the deep voice, the enormously fine care 
for saying the thing that is in the mind, and all 
of that, was better got, really, by listening to 
him than by reading what he had written. 

Your point is one that deserves a wider foot 
note. The world has been full, from time immemorial, 
of people, perhaps a multiple times as gifted as 
that man was, who have left no record at all because 
there happened to be no Boswell in their world. He s 
Just one of those. On the other hand, the fact that 
he engaged the dazzling mind of Elsie Arden, as he 
did, and her love, and had all the letters, which 
are still extant, you see, brilliant, philosophical, 
penetrating, bawdy, ranging over everything that 
came under her eye or into report to her ear, she 
did for decades add to his life by correspondence, 
as when she came to stay with him as she did every 
year, or most years, for six weeks or two or three 
months, she did it by word of mouth. 

Rlessi Would you describe Noel Sullivan? My impression 
from snapshots is of a very Irish-looking man. 

Lehman: He was a tall man for his generation, I think 5* 11"; 
slender always, he spent too much energy to be 
fleshed; green eyes; a face that many people would 
have thought not beautiful, but when moved, active 
In compassion or extensions of imagination and so 
on, it took on an extraordinary light. It aged 
first into the fifties and sixties, slowly, and then 
very suddenly, as the heart and other ailments 
developed, in the sixty-third or fourth year, 
Sullivan became grey, but the indomitable lighting-up 
of the inner thing was there until the early summer 
of the year he died. (I didn t see him in the last 
months because I was on the Eastern seaboard and in 
Europe. ) He had a short step, sometimes striking 
you as being almost womanly, otherwise he seemed 
vigorous, vigorous, vigorous. 

He had great charm and, of course, we haven t 
stressed here his laughter, his humor. No one, of 
course, can understand, as he made a lifetime effort 
to understand, human beings, without being struck to 


Lehman: laughter again and again and again, and he was. In 
addition to mere laughter, which is a product of 
humor, he had great wit; the Juxtaposition of con 
tradictions well phrased was a specialty of his. He 
rejoiced in it even when it was not appreciated by 
his audience. 

Rlessi I think this is interesting, and nice to see the 
care with which you evoke a picture of him. 

Lehman: It would not be a Just picture of California, which 
is what we are generally concerned with in these 
dictations, it would not be a Just picture of 
California as it was in the period from after the 
First World War through the Second World War unless 
a man like Sullivan or Phelan, or the William Denmans, 
people like that, were known to be part of the 
picture, I think* 

[Added May 1968] In connection with Noel 
Sullivan and whatever suggestion of quality, eminence, 
personality I have been able to give, I should like 
to make available within the record three sketches 
toward a portrait, made in the late twenties, early 
thirties by William Justema. Justema himself was a 
draftsman, painting artist, a good one, of a very 
limited range. And he was something of a master of 
statement. The few pages that I here insert illustrate 
that in Justema. The important thing is that here 
is a view of Sullivan written down by a man much 
younger than I and of very different background and 
with totally different interests fed by totally 
different disciplines. And I think it will rather 
sustain the statement that I made.* 

* "Three Drawings for a Portrait" by W, 
in Appendices, pp. 315-331. 




Rless: Your year in London at the time of your marriage to 
Judith Anderson must have been a time of great 
theatrical experiences for you. 

Lehman: That half year or so of London and some trips to 
the Continent in 1938 or 1939 were enormously 
interesting, and it was an extension of the picture 
of the world the years provided for me. 

In London, the people we saw mostly were Clemence 
Dane, whose real name was Winifred Ashton and who died 
last year, a distinguished human being as well as a 
good novelist, a good writer of scenarios for the 
motion pictures, and a strikingly vivid figure in 
the theater. She had written a play about Chatterton, 
the eighteenth century poet who died so young, and 
she had written it in terms of his love for an older 
woman. It was called Come of Age. It did not have 
a long run in New York, and when we went to London, 
there was question of reviving it there. That was 
never brought about, but I was struck with the fact 
that every important person in the theater Larry 
Olivier and Vivien Leigh, who were then young, 
Gielgud, and Edith Evans wanted to have it again. 
They thought it one of the notable theater experiences. 
They didn t mean by that that it was one of the great 
plays; they meant that altogether it made in the 
theater an unforgettable experience, far more unfor 
gettable than Judith s playing of Lady Macbeth, though 
that was knockout at the Old Vic. There was something 
very special, total, in the recollection of Come of 
Age, which I hadn t seen because it was playing in 
New York when I had to be working in Berkeley. The 
gathering of the clans around the efforts to reproduce 
that play is now really very memorable to me. 

Hless: Were any of these people in it? 

Lehman: No. It was to be a production which kept Judith 

Anderson again in the central place, and it would be 
cast from other and younger actors. I mention It 
chiefly because the project was the first thing all 
gathered around; it did not come to pass. Instead, 
down at the Old Vic Theater, a production of Macbeth 


Lehman: with Larry Olivier as Macbeth and Judith Anderson 

as Lady Macbeth, directed by a bilingual Frenchman, 
was Judith Anderson s first experience In Shakespeare, 

Learning the role, discovering the special kinds 
of magic In the Shakespearean language, finding the 
very special tension that Shakespeare sets up in his 
tragedies these were experiences that I shared with 
her. It was enormously Instructive to me, as a life 
long student of the play from my sophomore year in 
college, to see how a theater craftsman with the 
highest aptitudes and the best conditioned voice and 
plastic means would go about setting that before the 
public. So when I returned, and there remained then 
of course still twenty years of teaching, I had some 
thing more than I had had when I went. 

Bless: Can you tell a little more specifically about her 

approach and about how your scholarly knowledge must 
have contributed? 

Lehman: I suppose I could if I sat down with the text. I 
remember things like this: I went to an early 
rehearsal before costumes and lighting were set up. 
In the theater those are usually in the very last 
days before opening night. The set required that 
from the murder room first Macbeth and then Lady 
Macbeth come down a flight of perhaps ten or eleven 
stairs; that is to say, Macbeth had gone to murder 
Duncan in a room that was up the flight of stairs. 
He had brought the daggers down, and she had to take 
them back. Sitting in the rehearsal that night, I 
said afterwards, "It s all full. It s continuously 
vibrant with what s going on In Lady Macbeth except 
when you were coming down the stairs. What were you 

"Nothing," she said. "And I should be." Of 
course it is part of her spirit and craft that if she 
has to think in lines she projects it. So I learned 
about that; I learned about blanks In presence in 

After the banquet scene, one of the very great 
moments I have ever seen in the theater was there 
from the earliest rehearsals and was magnificent in 
the performances over months. When Lady Macbeth has 
got rid of the guests "Stand not upon the order of 
your going, but go at once" she, Lady Macbeth, 


Lehman: withdrew. They had always from the beginning of the 
play been together; when they came In, they embraced, 
they were great middle-aged lovers. Now she with 
drew, and they were separated. He had let her down 
In the long painful aftermath of the murder of Dunoan. 
She withdrew, and the distance between them seemed 

The way that effect was got was that she stood 
into the masonry and was almost a part of it on the 
side of the great banquet hall, while he stood alone 
in the center of the stage. In that stance of 
distance, in that condition in which he was alone and 
exposed in center stage and she had withdrawn into 
the masonry, he says, "What is the night?" 

Her answer, barely audible but absolutely 
vibrant in the ear, "Almost at odds with morning, 
which is which." 

So for the reading of fiction, for the illustrative 
passage in lectures for freshman classes, this was a 
great education for me. There were hundreds of such 

Then there were many other experiences in the 
London of that time. 

Rless: Had you gone there Just because she was going to do 
this production? 

Lehman: No, Judith Anderson was a British subject, born in 

Australia; we had gone to England to spend six months, 
and this would be part of it of course. Winifred, 
Clemence Dane, was an acquaintance of mine and a 
great friend of Judith Anderson s, but we knew every 
body. We knew Noel Coward. I remember parties at 
the little Covent Garden pied a terre, where Clemence 
Dane had parties after the theater that lasted until 
two or three in the morning and were full of good 
talk, revelations of one kind or another if one were 
out to learn. And other parties at Clemence Dane s 
place down in Kent. A weekend with Gielgud up in 

Sometimes we went down to Windsor to stay with 
Larry Olivier and Vivien Leigh, who were then not 
married and had rather scandalized London. Each had 


Lehman: left a spouse and children, or a child, to come 

together, and in London even the theater world was 
a little shocked. I think they were very glad to 
have some company from an outside universe, where 
those factors were not still vibrating. So we saw 
a great deal of them. They were young; I think he 
was at thirty, and she was much younger than that. 

After Macbeth, when Macbeth moved from the Old 
Vic into London to a major theater in the theater 
district, Vivien Leigh went into rehearsal with A 
Midsummer Night s Dream for Christmas. The opening 
night was the night before I sailed (because I had 
to get back to Berkeley to my classes), and I have 
never seen anything visually as glorious as Vivien 
Leigh in A Midsummer Night s Dream as Titania. The 
only thing to compare with it goes way back into my 
spellbound youth, and that was Maude Adams coming 
down the ballroom stairs in the Barrie play A Kiss 
for Cinderella, in which Maude Adams marvelous 
radiance and the extremely skillful lighting of the 
Trohman Theater staff gave something of the same 

Riess: What an intensely Shakespearean group and time it 
must have been. 

Lehman: We had Richard II with Gielgud playing Hi chard, and 
that was an extraordinary experience. When we got 
to London, Gielgud was playing Richard II. and it 
happened that the night before we sailed, we went to 
see Richard II played by the glib, easy-going 
Shakespearean actor who also played in Shaw, Maurice 
Evans. Evans, one was told, had begun by stuttering 
and had taught himself not to and became an actor by 
way of this training. In any case, he played Richard 
II, and partly because of Evans and partly because 
of the direction it was all wrong. Prom the beginning 
you didn t understand why this king and his reign 
got so mixed up, because Evans was right there in the 
center of the stage as though he dominated the situation, 

We went to London, by boat of course in those 
days, and went the second evening as the guest of, 
for she had other engagements, Clemence Dane, to 
see Gielgud play Richard II, and from curtain up 
this was all dead right. "This was an opening scene 
in which Richard was invisible. He was downstage 


Lehman: with all his pretty male cronies, and they were 

laughing, and the big affairs were going on else 
where without his awareness. When he was called, 
he emerged, and one saw him then at the very 
beginning with all his weaknesses and with all his 
wrong commitments coming out and then doing a stunt, 
as all of his great speeches are marvelous stunts. 
He Is aware that he Is being watched, and he Is 
watching himself, and this Is what you got as soon 
as he got out of that little clique of thinner men. 
The two productions were extraordinarily Juxtaposed. 

I had a student at the University, beginning 
In the sophomore course English 4l and then going on 
to the advanced writing courses, named Michael Wilson. 
His father was a businessman of some scope. The 
family, through the mother, was Catholic. He had 
made a break away fromi a) Catholicism, and b) the 
values of business careers. He wanted to be creative. 
He presently moved over to the extremely left position 
In politics and the ideologies of our time, and I 
think was accused when later he was writing in 
Hollywood of being a Communist, although I never had 
any knowledge of that and didn t really believe it. 
He was one of those people who was put on the black 
list in the McCarthy time. In any case, in the early 
years he and his father were good pals still, and 
while I was In London he and his father came to 
Europe for a few weeks, and he called me up. I was 
in correspondence with him; one of the five or six 
students I was In correspondence with every year. 
He said he would like to see us, and I said, "Well, 
come tonight after theater, because there will be a 
gathering of people here Clemence Dane, Larry Olivier, 
and John Gielgud." 

"Oh," he said. "That s wonderful, because I am 
going to see John Gielgud in Richard II with my father. 
Then afterwards I ll ditch the old man and come to 
your party." 

That was what happened. He came in, and the 
three of us had a little host-guest talk. Then he 
was taken round and presented to everyone. He was a 
very pleasant, really quite charming, athletic, small 
American man. Gielgud, being Gielgud, not only met 
him and I suppose welcomed him (I was out by the door 
at this stage) but spent most of the evening close to 

Lehman: him and sometimes in a duel of talk. 

So the long evening went vividly and variously 
through to the end, and when all the guests left my 
young friend from the University of California tarried 
and said to me as he began to say good night, "I m so 
sorry Gielgud didn t come." 

I said, "For God s sake, you were talking to 
him all evening." 

He said, "That mealy-mouthed fellow unable to 
pronounce words so you can understand them is 
Gielgud? Why, in the theater he drops pearls in 
your ears." 

And this is true. Gielgud in private life talks 
so fast, so mealy-mouthed, that for the most part you 
have to guess at two words out of every six or seven. 
But when he got into the theater his diction was the 
most glorious of our time for a man speaker. 

Hiess: It s like interesting stories you read of people who 
are practically crippled offstage and manage to pull 
themselves to a marvelous height before they walk on. 

Lehman: Yes, Ellen Terry, in her last years when she was 
blind and barely able to see the design that was 
written on the floor, moved about as though she had 
complete vision. Or, for that matter, you see that 
sometimes on campuses. 

Anybody who has been chairman of a department 
has had contact with a member of the staff who is 
frail or sick or both sick and frail, hardly able 
to get to the door of the room, but who will put it 
on energetically, do the fifty minutes in the class 
room, and collapse. Professor Durham of the English 
Department was an example of that. He had bad 
emphysema in the last years of lecturing, and he 
lectured in the largest hall in Dwinelle. We had 
to give him oxygen in the car before taking him into 
the room and at the end of the hour have the oxygen 
ready to give him again. In between, nobody in the 
audience would have thought anything was wrong. 

Of course the great classic image that the 
imagination supplies itself is that of Moliere, 
dying but playing the performance to the end, taking 


Lehman* his bows and going into the dressing room and 

Riessj Among all these people who were so involved in 
Shakespearean acting and acting in general, was 
conversation mostly about roles? 

Lehman i No, Except for Olivier, they were less likely to 

bring up the point than I was, being the University 
habit man. I would ask them what certain lines 
meant to them if it wasn t what I took them to mean. 
We would talk about interpretations and meanings of 

But it wasn t all Shakespeare. We talked about 
other things in the theater. Edith Evans was 
gloriously playing in a play by St. John Ervine, and 
we talked about some things in that. We talked about 
the difference between America and England; we talked 
about the difference between our individual ways of 
life; we talked about performances by other people 
who weren t in the room that a group had seen at any 
given time. 

Hiess: Was it unusual for these people to really verbalize 
what they meant, or were they used to it? 

Lehman: I think all people of the theater divide their time 
and spend 50 or 60 percent of it talking about the 
things we all talk about. The rest of it is spent 
on what they are doing, and this may go down to the 
actual meaning of a line or gesture. 

I remember one actress saying to me when she 
was playing a queen, "Do you think I ought to move 
that hand earlier?" This is a highly selective 
gesture, as a man in a university might say, "I 
never know whether to begin my lecture at five 
minutes after ten-after, or Just at ten-after and 
let the latecomers do as they can." 

I don t see any difference. There is some shop 
talk and a lot of not-shop talk. You talk about what 
you ve been reading, you play games, wonderful games, 
sometimes charades or verbal games. 

That all led to other things. At a later time, 
when I was spending three or four months in New York, 
we had a gathering. Helen Hayes, a woman I have 


Lehman: known very well since Montalvo days In the 1920s (I 
knew her almost as a girl), and I were talking about 
how many English actors there were In New York Bea 
Llllle, the Oliviers, Glelgud, and dozens of others. 
I said, "We ought really to give a party." 

She said, "I will, at Nyack." Nyack was the 
location of her beautiful house, where she and 
MaoArthur, her husband, lived. So we had a great 
gathering I think we must have been 30 people a 
great dinner with five or six tables, with talk 
before, talk during, and games afterwards. Then a 
few of us withdrew up to MaoArthur s study for 
literary talk. 

Once you re In that, these personalities don t 
seem so striking; that Is, you begin to take them 
for granted. If I had ever met Duse, for Instance, 
In the early Twenties, when I was following her 
performances around Europe, It would have been a 
kind of towering experience. For many people, to 
meet Olivier or Glelgud or Judith Anderson or Helen 
Hayes would be that. But It was not really; they 
are Just other human beings with other crafts, crafts 
which you know something about. 

I ought to add the fact that this experience 
stood me In very good stead when, a few years later, 
the University asked me to create a Department of 
Dramatic Art. It helped me, since I had known a good 
many directors, lighting people, and set designers, 
to Judge the men and women who after a while proved 
themselves able to create the department, which is 
now on a much larger scale than it was then envisioned 
but which has the qualities and is recognized by the 
people who direct It as a continuation of what we 
started in a very small way. That was all benefited 
by these various experiences. 

Riess: Do you have any ideas what the rewards were for these 
English actors on tour? 

Lehman: It s partly that the theater is international where 
the language is one, so that to play in England, 
Scotland, Ireland, Australia, or New Zealand was 
possible. Judith Anderson did make an Australian 
trip; she was born down there in Adelaide, and she 
went back. Where the language is one language, in 


Lehman: the English-speaking world, the theater is really 

There was a great tradition of Shakespearean 
and Restoration theater in London. We didn t have 
in this country in this century a great tradition 
of speaking Shakespeare s language. That is first 
a matter of speaking blank verse. It is secondly 
a matter of speaking a language that is heightened 
without ceasing to be common, and it is thirdly a 
matter of knowing how to wear costumes of another 
era, to be at home in dress that is not modern 
dress, for though one or two Shakespearean produc 
tions were made in modern dress, for the most part 
they are costumed as in the past. 

The American tradition of Shakespearean theater 
dwindled when Julia Marlowe and E. H. Sothern retired, 
or perhaps I should say it ended then and dwindled 
in the last years. Julia Marlowe had been well 
trained. Sothern had been badly trained but did 
have a sense of blank verse. There were other people, 
like Lewis, James, and Robert Mantell, but these 
people s way of playing Shakespeare, of speaking the 
lines, of wearing the costumes, and of making the 
non-modern gesture that goes with the costumes and 
another era, was all tainted by the grandiloquence, 
way back, of people like McCready and three or four 
other Shakespearean actors, Americans, in the 
nineteenth century. Apparently Booth was not one of 
those, but Booth died in the early nineties. His way 
of speaking those plays I only know this by hearsay, 
of course was right but vanished. 

In England, Henry Irving still had some of the 
old nineteenth century grandiloquence, but people 
around him had not. They were simple and authentic 
and did have the feel of the language and the other 
era. The woman I Just mentioned as being blind, 
Ellen Terry, clearly read nobly and grandly, but not 
grandiloquently in the Shakespearean roles. 

To come back to your question, England wanted 
to pick up somewhere in the second or third decades 
of the century the best of all that, and the Old Vic 
was the product of that return. It was a very, very 
rigorous schooling. One of our students from the 
Dramatic Art Department at Berkeley went to Join the 


Lehman: Old Vic school nearly twenty years ago, and when I 

said at the end of six months (we were corresponding), 
"What are you doing?", he said, "Well, I m still 
learning to walk." 

How to walk on a stage, how to wear out shoe 
leather, how to go out through a door so that the 
room on the other side is created in the onlooker s 
mind, how to go out so that a garden is created 
through that gate all of these things the Old Vic 
bothered about. And it bothered about how you said 
a single phrase. They would take two beginners in 
the voice course, and one of them would say Macbeth s, 
"But if we fail." Then Lady Macbeth says, "We fall." 
Now there are 500,000 ways of saying it, and they 
would use them all, until they got the voice to the 
point where it could do anything. 

These people came to America where they could 
illustrate their techniques. They were famous on 
that side; they got a great deal of publicity in the 
American press; they could illustrate for us. Then 
the two were put together. Gielgud was brought over 
to play Hamlet; Horatio was brought over; the king 
was brought over. But an Australian woman who has 
never been an American citizen, even now, Judith 
Anderson, who is a Dame in the scale of things in 
England, played the queen. An American girl played 
Ophelia. But in any case, we put them together. 
Sometimes whole companies came, and in later times 
Olivier brought his whole company. He showed how he 
played Greek tragedies and was enthusiastically 

Riess: Who comprised the teaching staff at the Old Vic? 
Lehman: Older actors. 

Riess: But weren t older actors bound to be part of the 
grandiloquent tradition? 

Lehman: Sometimes, and sometimes not. There were older 

actors and special teachers of speech, people who 
had made a business of it. For instance, a man or 
a woman may be a great teacher of voice and voice 
possibilities without having what it takes to go on 
the stage, which is presence, the power of turning 
on and opening out the magnetic field. 


Lehman: McClintic, Katherine Cornell s husband, was 

one of the most astonishing vocalists in this special 
sense and indeed a great suggestor of physical 
positions and gestures, but he had no magnetism. 
He was a marvelous director of theater in my view. 
Katherine Cornell was a gifted woman, but her very 
high place in the theater was really projection 
from McClintic. I ve seen him at work; he directed 
Judith in a number of things. He couldn t do any 
thing on the stage; he had no magnetism at all. 
Dozens of members of the Berkeley faculty in the 
lecture room have far more magnetism than Guthrie 
McClintic had. This is what the Old Vic did. It 
got the people for teaching who had the vocal skills, 
the plastic skills and who couldn t have careers in 
theater except of this kind, who couldn t go out 
before the footlights and make the house vibrate by 
Just being there. 

Rless: Olivier is amazingly versatile. 

Lehman: He could really do anything; he s a craftsman, an 
absolute craftsman. 

Helen Hayes, with a very limited palate, was a 
marvelous oraftswoman in the theater. Her Queen 
Victoria went from a girl of seventeen to an old 
lady of eighty in one afternoon. We would see her 
take all of this stuff off of her face after the 
performance Jowls, wrinkles and yet going through 
it again and again because she knew how to make the 
eyes or one gesture, not too often but not too rarely 
during the performance, speak for everything. This 
is craftsmanship by exclusion. It is also crafts 
manship by inclusion of bearing, gesture, intonation, 
eye movement. 

Helen Hayes was wonderful in the wheelchair 
scene for the Jubilee, Just before she was wheeled 
out to the balcony to hear the crowds. She straightened 
herself up a little bit, and this little bit made her 
arthritis hurt. For an old lady conserving her 
energy by doing nothing but move eyes and lit>s for 
a little while, this hurt, and she said, "Ooh," and 
the hand went down. This vivified retroactively the 
last several minutes and the next several. 

It is of all these things that our own little 
theater in Berkeley, our enterprise on campus in 


Lehman: Wheeler Auditorium when we had nothing else, was the 

Rless: This acting Is a much more studied thing than I had 
ever Imagined. 

Lehman: They work very hard. 

Hless: I mean the attention to detail, taking care of one s 
own costume rather than letting someone else handle 

Lehman: There Is a little of both. If you are a walk-on, 

you put on what you are told to put on, and you walk 
the way the director or the assistant director says 
and at the moment he specifies. If he says, "Come 
in on the -er of the word follower," you don t 
come in on the "-low- H of follower. Timing is all. 
But for those who have achieved attention to costume, 
a refusal to take the designer s word is a part of 
what it s about. There are long years of hard work 
even where there is notable talent. Edwin Forrest 
and McCready and people of the nineteenth century 
apparently were much less studious of their craft 
than is the modern theater. 

Geraldine Page, for instance, is not only a 
great vibrant figure of the theater; her sense of 
her resources and her skill in underplaying, which 
is really only using the fewest possible means to 
make the greatest possible effect, are highly 
refined. Anyone can blow up a storm by raging, but 
to blow up a storm by three or four gestures and one 
phrase of intonation is an achievement. 

Rless: One thing which you must have brought to the Dramatic 
Arts Department was a sense of the importance of all 
the aspects of theater rather than Just a few. 

Lehman: Yes, but we had to keep them all simple, because 

that was the condition under which we were operating. 



Getting It Started 

Lehman: Toward the end of the Thirties there came in the 
University a concern about the arts. Professor 
Stephen Pepper had, against great resistance, really, 
created the Department of Art and made it a depart 
ment not only of the history of painting and 
sculpture, but of the practice of painting and 
sculpture. (We already had story writing and even 
poetry in the Department of English.) It came then 
to be seen that if you could have people painting 
and sculpting and writing short stories, you ought 
to have people acting, writing plays, trying them 
out, directing, making scenery. In any case, 
Stephen Pepper s view was that you should have and 
he bedeviled Deutsch and Sproul, Vice-president and 
President, until they set up a committee. 

Well, around the University, whenever you 
propose anything you end up being chairman of the 
committee. Stephen was chairman and the committee 
was W. H. Durham, who was the professor who taught 
the history of drama in the English Department and 
B. H. Lehman. Why Lehman? I wouldn t know, unless 
it was that I had married an actress and might thus 
be supposed to have some special knowledge of the 

Rless: Was Professor Pepper s thinking about this an out 
growth of his Arts Club? Were you a member of that 

Lehman: No, I was never a member of it because I avoided 
such things. I suppose It was part that, but I 
think it was really an outgrowth of his sense of what 
the academic community should be: The University 
should be creative in all its modes and if a scientist 

*Pepper, Stephen Coburn, Art and Philosophy at 
the University of California. 1919 to 1962. Berkeley, 
California, 1963. 


Lehman: went Into a laboratory, a person Interested in 
painting went into a studio; that seemed to be 
Pepper s view. It was a conception and it was a 
very good one. 

Anyway the three of us were the whole committee, 
a small committee and we finally decided that there 
should be a Department of Dramatic Art. I think they 
still use on the program they did a little while 
ago a few sentences I wrote from that report, saying 
that it was "dedicated to the study of and the pre 
senting of the best drama of all ages and all cultures" 
or whatever. I ve forgotten Just how it was phrased. 
In any case, Stephen had said, "Well, now, sketch in 
what you want to see in the report." And then we put 
it all together and these few sentences stuck. 

The result of that was some weeks later, when 
we were at the end of the spring semester, there 
was a message for me to call Dr. Deutsch s secretary 
and I did. She said Deutsch wanted to see me so I 
went over and he said "I want to ask you to undertake 
the creation of the Department of Dramatic Art." 

"For God s sake, why?" 

And he said, "Well, there is this very clear 
statement of what it should be, and Stephen says you 
wrote it." So it was as chancy as that. I didn t 
want to do it, but I did. 

Bless: Really, why do you think you got on the committee 
in the first place? 

Lehman: Well, I couldn t see why unless it was because of 
my marriage to Judith Anderson, and because of the 
rumor that I had written most of "Family Portrait." 
I had helped her with some suggested revisions in it, 
you see, because it had to be done several times 
before she played it in New York, and we talked a 
great deal about it. I don t know how these things 
get going. 

Bless: Had you been close to Professors Durham or Pepper? 

Lehman: I had been very close to Stephen Pepper. We worked 
together on many creative projects, small though, 
nothing that became as big as this. And Durham was 
my office mate and close friend. 


Riesst Well then, Pepper probably suggested the committee 
names rather than Deutsch or Snroul, do you think? 

Lehman: I think he may have, but they are always referred 
to the Committee on Committees In cases of that 
sort, I think. I m not sure how that was done, I 
never Inquired. 

In any case what we have Is the beginning of 
that enterprise. It was late In the term. We were 
supposed to do It next year. It was too late to 
review the field to find good people. It was also 
very difficult because the students had an acting 
group. ASUC had a dramatic enterprise, you see, 
which they didn t want to relinquish and which, 
indeed, for three years or two, they kept running 
side by side with ours. 

At first we accepted the ASUC group, and there 
was some question as to whether the man who was 
directing, employed by the ASUC, should be taken in, 
but I wouldn t have anything to do with that. So 
we really didn t have very much, but it happened 
that there had come by here the son of the great 
Viennese dramatist, Arthur Schnitzler. He had been 
here and lectured and I had met his father once. 
As a matter of fact, way back in 1925 I was in 
Vienna as a delegate of P.E.N. from the Pacific 
Coast to Thomas Mann s fiftieth birthday and there 
was a big reception at Dr. Schnitzler s house, so 
I had seen his father and the son was a European 
much engaged in the theater. And he had no official 
post. He went out and did things ad hoc, you know; 
they invited him to come and produce a play or give 
some lectures. So Schnitzler was available. 

Then I went out to see a performance at Diablo 
Country Club which had been directed by Fred Harris, 
and though it was a bad, stiff performance, I had 
the intuition that this was because of the kind of 
people that he had in the club. So I talked to Harris 
at some length and thought, "Well, he could come to 
us for a year," and that proved to be a stroke of 
genius, for Harris is one of the most creative men 
in the University, with a very remarkable sense of 
theater. His history was that he had begun as an 
architect and as an architect with various interests 
he had gone, I think in Portland, to a little theater 
group saying, "Can I help make scenery?" And In that 


Lehman: group, apparently, was Mary Harris, his wife, and 
after they were married she sort of drew him into 
the theater or opened the theater to him. They 
worked in Hollywood and they worked in New York 
with Ouspenskaya. 

In any case, I administered, I fought the 
battles for budget, I took the risks if somebody 
had to be appointed. But the vision and the genius 
for the theater was Fred Harris s and it should be 
recognized. He always very generously says other 
wise but this is not true. The truth is that he had 
a perfect combination of gifts, for teacher-student 
relations, for director-player relations, for 
director-actor relations. And though he did not at 
the start have a full sense of the play as a whole 
so that when the curtain went up on the first per 
formance I could sit there and say, "This is right, 
everything for the play, nothing for the actors, 
nothing for individual actors, nothing for the 
director, there are no vanities, there is all sub 
ordination and inflow to a total effect" he didn t 
have that at the beginning and he didn t at the 
beginning have enough literary experience to know 
where to look in the play for the key to the central 
effect to which all these other things could inflow, 
you see, he got on to it fast. 

I can remember sitting after a run-through of 
the play that would be about two weeks before 
production early in the first year I had sat through 
it all, I had made my notes, and then we went over 
and had a cup of coffee to talk it over. And he 
said, "What do you think? 11 

I said, "Well, it s very charming but what in 
God s name is it all about? What does it mean? 
Where is the center?" I could Just see the scales 
fall from his eyes. This is what he hadn t had. It 
hadn t occurred to him you had to have it, he hadn t 
seen it. 

He moved on to some of the most audacious and 
successful things I ve ever seen In the theater. 
The Lear, for instance, the Oedipus plays in the 
Greek Theatre, there are a dozen or twenty things 
that are really memorable forever to the people who 
saw them. The first performance of Lear was sold 


Lehman: out to the people who were sent to see Shakespeare 
or who never missed Shakespeare. After that there 
would be two or three hundred who couldn t get In. 
Then we always had this fight. 

We gave six or eight performances two weekends, 
and when we got a success like Lear that s good for 
the community, the question becomes shall we give 
a third weekend? I never allowed that because the 
actors In the play are students In the University and 
three weekends, especially If you re doing a major 
role, can wreck a whole semester. You can t do that 
to your students , though there was heavy pressure 
for It, you know. We did charming collaborative 
things like the Dido and Aeneas with good musical 
direction and exquisite Baroque theater design and 

Riess: Did you have professionals ever? 

Lehman: No, that all came later. I wouldn t have any. Even 

the use of members of the faculty was largely developed 

I might add parenthetically that Harris s wife, 
Mary, was extremely useful to us in the days when 
the staff was small and our enterprises exigent the 
productions of Lear, Dido and Aeneas. She was not 
only full of suggestions, she was willing to work 
with gifted students privately and without reward. 
If a student had almost everything he needed to play 
a role but one thing was missing, she would work with 
him to get that thing out. She was very good on 
voice training. 

I was in there only a few years, Just to get it 
started. But you know what is needed to get it 
started is not someone who knows anything about 
dramatic art, but somebody who knows how to work the 
University, how to call up the President s secretary 
and get in to see the President, this is what s 
needed and this is what you learn gradually. It was 
never a question.... Oh, sooner or later the thing 
would have done itself and it went very fast because 
I had access, knew how to get access, which secretary 
to call and what hours she s on duty. And then, of 
course, there were other things, I had certain 
advantages. I was on the Budget Committee in the 



Lehman : 






later years of that time. All of these things had 
led the Committee on Committees to say, well, let s 
try him out there. 

And you had gotten to be a personal friend of 
Sproul s and Deutsch s anyway? 

Well, everybody was on first name terms, 
know what you mean by personal friend. 

I don t 

I m sure that there are plenty of people In the 
University who didn t feel that they could come up 

Well, Sproul always called me by my first name, from 
way back. He had abundant warmth. But when I went 
in to him as President to talk of anything, whether 
for the Budget Committee later or now for Dramatic 
Art, I said, "Mr. President." If I saw him in the 
Faculty Club I called him by his first name. 

He was very good. I went in and said, "Now what 
do you want done in this thing? What s your vision 
of it?" 


"My vision of it is what you re going to tell 

And another time, "How do you want this done?" 

"I want you to tell me how I want it done." Very 
open in those ways, and he never went out on a limb, 
which Is part of the same thing. 

Did you ever consider inviting any of the theater 
people that you knew to come and do half a year with 
the Dramatic Arts Department to get them associated 
with the campus? 

Do you mean any of the great figures in the theater? 

Well, the great figures weren t available. This new 
spreading and deepening of resources of money has 
come since then. They are now building. Travis 
Bogard invites a world famous director for half a 
year, a great Greek director for six weeks. 


Lehman: We had something very different to do. We had 

to make a University department out of what had been an 
ASUC student enterprise. It took several years to 
convince the ASUC that they could have fun with their 
productions, but that they weren t the Department of 
Dramatic Art. This was a slow process with one or 
two clashes, but for the most part it went smoothly 
although it took time. Then we did find in Harris 
a man of theater and we wanted a man who wasn t an 
empire builder. 

We didn t want at that stage, and I don t think 
they do now, to duplicate what Kenneth Macgowan, my 
Harvard classmate, was doing at UCLA. This is a 
school of the theater. This was to be a University 
department, and originally we said, "No Ph.D. s, 
Just the M.A. program." Now that s been amplified. 
We had no theater except the Greek Theatre, and 
there we put on a few performances unforgettable 
things but mostly we used Wheeler Auditorium. We 
were exploring the possibilities of the resources 
at hand; we were not asking for money to build 
theaters at that stage, although before I left the 
Building Development Program chairmanship we were 
planning the theater that is now being built. We 
didn t make a great University occasion of it when 
anybody came by who was free to come and talk with 
the students; we made an evening in Tamalpais Road. 

The idea was that the Department of Art, Paint 
ing, and Sculpture, and the Department of Dramatic Art 
would be openers for undergraduates and perhaps for 
graduate students to possibilities in their own 
talents in their own lives. So we would take students 
who had no experience of theater at all, and very 
often they became very good. We would try them in 
a small part, put them in a larger one, and finally 
put them in Hamlet or Lear. 

You have to keep another thing in mind in this 
connection. There were large groups of University 
men, and therefore large segments of University 
power, that thought this should not be done at all. 
This has all changed in the last thirty years j they 
thought that you couldn t teach art or dramatic art 
to people and that it was a waste of University 


Rless: These were the people whose power receded in about 
1936 with what was called the 1936 Revolution? 

Lehman: It began at about that time, but there were similar 
things happening all through the country. Yale 
brought George Pierce Baker down. Harvard let him 
go. He had started to direct plays at Harvard and 
Radcliffe. He began as a professor of argumentation; 
he moved on to become the professor of the history 
of the theater, of drama and plays. Then he began 
doing some little productions. He had a writers 
workshop; Eugene O Neill went there. (O Neill said 
he didn t learn anything, but he was there, and he 
had a chance to write.) Harvard thought very ill 
of this. 

The same thing was true of music. Spaldlng 
was an assistant professor of music at Harvard who 
never got anywhere, I think. So departments of 
music and California set the pace here in Berkeley 
with music rather than with dramatic art or painting 
departments of music and the arts were all out. Where 
they were put in, they were the history of music. 
There was great fear that these people would begin 
to compose music or direct It. Now that has all 
changed, whether for the better or not may be a 

Riess: Was there Just a general enlightenment around the 
country, or was there anything more specific? 

Lehman: I couldn t say; I have no idea where it started. 
Baker tried the first such In a major university, 
and he was so unhappy (though he was a nephew of 
Charles William Eliot s wife and therefore related 
to the family that administered Harvard until 1909) 
at what developed in Abbott Lawrence Lowell s time 
that he went down to Yale. No Harvard man had ever 
done that. He went because they gave him a theater 
which some graduate who was interested had given 
to Yale. 

He was out here in the early 1920s. He had been 
a teacher of mine; he came to dine and said practically 
what I ve said that they didn t really want it up 
there in Cambridge. He went down to New York for 
theater and was said to be slighting classes. Professors 
leave the University for weeks at a time now on such 


Lehman: enterprises and nobody thinks anything of it. In 
those days it was horrible. As far as I know, he 
was the first in a major university. Small univer 
sities put this kind of thing in; new colleges like 
Bennington which were Just springing up put it in 

Then, suddenly, it flowered. Pepper had, on 
the national scale, a great deal to do with It. 

But I do believe there is a groundswell. I 
believe this in politics, I believe this in connec 
tion with spending policy, the economic situation 
and so on. I believe it also with respect to 
culture manifestations on the art front. There is 
a groundswell, why? who knows? sun spots. And if 
you have something that suddenly becomes terribly 
alive, like the Harris productions at UC, then 
some of the people who were in there went out and 
started their theaters. There were three or four 
little groups that did. And then everybody s doing 
it. So maybe what went on at Berkeley is part of 
the groundswell, I don t know. 

Hiess: Sometimes a small technical advance, like color 

photography in advertising, can make the breakthrough. 

Lehman: Yes, and it may well be that two things operated in 
this theater area: one, the exploring of simpler 
techniques of production, the kind of thing which 
we may have contributed to in Wheeler Hall no back 
entrance, Just those side entrances. The simpler 
means of production and, then, better and cheaper 
lighting equipment. 

Pre-Department History of Theater in the Bay Area 

Riess: Let s go back and get some of the history of dramatic 
arts at the University and in the Bay Area. 

Lehman: We began about 1923 a Little Theater on Alls ton Way 
in an old church, with many people giving energy and 
thought, and with some support in small sums from 
ordinary people and in larger sums from Elizabeth 


Lehman: Ellis. Irving Plchel was the chief center of that, 
though Everett Glass was also Involved, I think as 
producer. And many members of the faculty enacted 
roles in the plays, and sometimes very good actors 
from Hollywood came up to take a role. I was a 
member of the budget committee for that along with 
Harrison Robinson, an Oakland attorney. 

fiiess: Was this related at all to the theater which had 
grown up around the Greek Theatre? 

Lehman: Only in the sense that Irving Plchel had been with 
Sam Hume in the Greek Theatre enterprise, which 
somehow didn*t develop much. They did a performance 
every year, more or less, some very interesting ones, 
energetically done. Pichel played in those; sometimes 
he assisted Sam Hume in the direction. It was fringe 
University. It was not a University activity, but 
University people, members of the faculty, and students 
played in the productions. 

Irving Pichel was in love with theater. His 
moving later into the motion picture world and 
directing and acting was only the natural flowering 
of his love. 

Riess: Was he from this University? 

Lehman: No, he was not. He was from the East; whether he 

went to Harvard or not for awhile, I cannot remember. 
I think he was in Pittsburg for awhile at the 
Carnegie. He was of a beguiling temperament and 
"projected" in the way of the gifted actor. A vibra 
tion was set up in the auditorium. 

The history of theater at the University is 
very curious. There had been earlier in the second 
decade of the century a good deal of activity at 
the Greek Theatre under a member of the English 
Department, William Dallam Armes. Margaret Anglin 
and others came in those days. Also under the 
leadership of James Turney Allen of the Department 
of Greek, productions were given in Greek, in the 
Greek Theatre. I don t think they were very good 
in a true sense of what theater can be. I think 
Allen tended to overemote, and he himself played 
the great roles, but they satisfied an interest and 
a curiosity. A man like Professor Ivan Linforth, 




Hi ess: 
Lehman : 



who is still living, in retirement, could fill in 
facts here. 

In any case the Greek Theatre was in the early 
years the center, and was still used in the early 
twenties under the direction of Hume with the assis 
tance of Pichel. Then there were some student plays, 
directed either by students or by people that the 
students employed. But the enterprise on Allston 
Way, the conversion of the church into a theater and 
the producing of plays that wouldn t ordinarily be 
seen, or students wouldn t undertake, this with the 
backing of Harrison Robinson and Elizabeth Ellis and 
a few others, was a small-scale enterprise of con 
siderable moment, really, for it kept certain things 
alive that had begun to die. 

What do you mean? 

in being 

Interest in the theater, interest in doing, 
part of, a community theater in the special sense 
that one acted or helped make sets, or was a prompter, 
or wrote the publicity, or called friends and asked 
them to take tickets, and so on. 

What sort of playwrights did this theater act? 

We had a play by L.N. Andreyeu, He Who Gets Slapped* 
and A Kiss for Cinderella, by Barrie, and a Galsworthy 
play, and I think perhaps Gorki s Lower Depths plays 
of that sort. There was a certain sense of frontier, 
breaking over conventional margins, not Just doing 
Broadway successes. 

I noticed that in the Twenties Sam Hume was giving 
drama courses in the English Department. 

He may have been giving some in 1920-21, I think, 

he was not after that. Walter Morris Hart found that 

he was superficial, perhaps erratic. 

I wondered why these things were taught in the English 
Department rather than in the public speaking depart 
ment where the rest of dramatic art was taught. 

There were no clean-cut lines in those earlier days. 
We had had public speaking in the department. Before 
1920 it was pushed out and made a separate department. 


Lehman: We had Journalism in the department when I came 
here; that went out the next year under Raymond. 
Public speaking had gone out under Flaherty. These 
extrusions to set up new entities were part of a 
growing institution, the process of growth in such 
an institution. We got rid of public speaking, 
Journalism, and then dramatic art. 

At the time there was no reason for getting 
rid of dramatic art; if there was no theater, you 
could teach the art of drama in the English Depart 
ment as you could teach it in French or German or 
Greek. It was only when, under Dr. Pepper s strong 
recommendation and urging, it was discovered that 
other schools were moving in that direction, that 
we considered it seriously. There was not much 
theater anymore, although there had once been, in 
San Francisco. We thought there ought to be some 
experience in the theater for growing, humanistic 
intelligences. The students had always wanted it 
and they had had student performances. They employed 
their own drama coaches, directors. 

The reason for making that a separate entity 
was that it involves so many different things. For 
instance it involves the use of a theater, which 
means the use of scenery, which means the making of 
scenery, which means the designing of scenery. It 
involves the use of lights, which means electrical 
engineering and similar disciplines. It involves 
costumes, which means the designing and making of 
costumes. It means the building up of a reserve, 
which we immediately began to do, of costumes as 
things that can be actually worn, but more often as 
examples of what people actually wore in 1900 or 
1880. English as a field of study needs books in 
a library, blank paper, pencils, or typewriters. 
Drama needs something else, if you make it more than 
the study of what is on the page operating in the 
imagining mind. 

Riess: This idea probably could have come to pass if, for 
instance, von Neumayer had cared...? 

Lehman: Von Neumayer was a wonderful fellow. He had a deep 
love of theater and a true insight, but he was not 
an energetic, creative, and administrative temperament, 
So one play every year or two years was what he 


Lehman: produced. The long elaborate preparation of it in 
the classroom and out and the long polishing of 
every intonation created subtleties and perfections 
which would go by the average member of an audience 
unobserved, though perhaps not without influence 
on that average member. To get what was effective 
theater was quite a different thing and quite alien 
to his temperament. 

It was not alien to Sam Hume s or to Irving 
Pichel s, but there was a certain amount of razzle- 
dazzle in their approach which was not grounded at 
all in preliminary disciplines. As a department of 
painting has some sense of the history of painting, 
a department of dramatic art ought to have some 
sense of the history of drama. This was not present 
in their view. They read and were excited by a 
work and wanted to put it on. They did not care 
whether the student was trained as long as he was 
effective, so that they fell into the kind of thing 
that later came to be called type-casting. They 
would get somebody who could play a part Just by 
being himself j whereas, we wanted every person in the 
cast to be capable of playing every one of the parts, 
to be an actor in short. 

Riess: Sam Hume left as you were coming to the University. 
Lehman: He was just being gradually moved out. 
Riess: For personal reasons? 

Lehman: I never knew what the personal reasons were except 
as they were involved in the kind of razzle-dazzle 
temperament that he had. 

Riess: Professor Pepper spoke of a committee under President 
Campbell to decide on his dismissal. 

Lehman: I do not know what the details were. Certainly there 
was the Mary Morris business and then someone else, 
but we had had that sort of thing before. 

I thought Hume * s 1920 production of the second 
part of Henry IV was very good, but he used people 
like Irving Pichel on the stage, as at a later time 
in one performance a year, the Department of Dramatic 
Art often used the wives or the members of the 

Lehman: department to show what the semi- or modified profes 
sional performers could be. In Dramatic Art, we had 
a very different idea originally. It s a little 
more elaborate now, but still the same idea good 

Riess: After Sam Hume left, what happened to theatrical 

Lehman: It was all in the hands of the students with an 
occasional performance directed by von Neunayer. 

Riess: What were the English Club activities? 

Lehman: I knew less about those than Professor Pepper. I 
never was a member of the club though I spoke at a 
banquet or two. 

Riess: They did dramatic work. 

Lehman; They did a play every year and they hired someone. 
Then that got absorbed into the ASUC program. 

The Years as Chairman 

Riess: As the Dramatic Arts Department went on in the few 
years that you were chairman, the play production 
course taught by Mrs. Sarah Sturgess was gotten rid 
of. What did it mean that a production course was 

Lehman: The two people in the Department of Public Speaking 
who dealt with plays were Sarah Sturgess and von 
Neumayer. Von Neumayer had Just retired when we 
started Dramatic Art; he had been out a year. 

Sarah Sturgess was still there. She was not 
competent to give a production course; she was Just 
a show-off, an exhibitionist, with a charming voice 
and some personal force. She was untrained; she had 
an A.B. or affected to have one, I never knew. In 
those days these things were not always certain. 
I went to visit one or two of her classes, and I 
made opportunities for myself to talk to people who 
took them. It was obvious; it was patchouli; it was 


Lehman: dreadful stuff. So It was a question of retiring 

When I went to look at her biography In the 
files where age is given, I saw that she still had 
seven or eight years to go. That would have meant, 
since she had been there so long, that the University 
would have had to fork out maybe a considerable sum 
to get rid of her. But we had to get rid of her, 
she was in the way of somebody who would really do 
the Job. 

At that moment, the accounting office asked 
the retirement office to get a birth certificate 
from everybody, so that everybody would retire 
honestly, that being a very important actuarial 
factor in setting up the retirement system of pen 
sions. Her certificate showed she had taken eight 
to ten years off her age. As soon as we had the true 
age, we could retire her. [Laughter] I confronted 
her with this. "Sarah." (I had never called her 
Sarah before but since this was going to be a terrible 
blow, I thought I d better be sweet and friendly.) 
She laughed like a fool, "And didn t I get away with 
it," said she. So Sarah was out. 

We were then free to begin to look around. We 
were not wanting to imitate a department of theater 
as Kenneth Macgowan was developing at UCLA. We 
wanted an academic discipline. But at that stage we 
were not trying to build up a major enterprise. We 
thought of it as a comparatively small academic 
opportunity for undergraduates of certain aptitude. 
I think we succeeded in making that kind of depart 
ment, but it was not easy to find the people to do 
it. Fred Harris* special gifts and some others 
conspired to bring about a really vivid creative 
thing so that we had good theater, wonderful 
productions, giving great opportunity to students 
who worked on the production and those who acted in 
the production. It gave also an opportunity to the 
University community to see the plays and to see 
what students could do. This is as far as we ever 
intended to go at that stage. Now, of course, 
there are new men, new visions, and that is as it 
should be. They are going beyond that. They have 
the doctorate and all these things which I was not 
for, at least, which I was not for at that stage. 


Rless: Was not your Job as chairman to bring in new men? 

Lehman i There was no staff at all. My Job was to bring in 
somebody. Sam Hume lived in Berkeley, but he was 
long since out of it. Everett Glass lived in 
Berkeley, and he had been Involved earlier with 
ASUC, but he was not the type. Sarah Sturgess was 
not; von Neumayer was retired. So it meant finding 
people. There was Schnitzler who came and then went 
to UCLA because he was a professional theater man 
and was trying to turn this into a professional 
activity. People that we brought from time to 
time, like Bassage for a year or two, were always 
invited with the understanding that it might come 
to something but that it night only be brief also. 
We moved people on very fast if you look through the 
roster for the first years. 

Riess: Would top people come here at that point? 

Lehttan: They would come only if you would set them up with 
a budget of $150,000, and in those days that was 
a lot of money. We were operating on a budget of 
twelve or fifteen thousand. 

fiiess: Alan Thompson was another department member? 

Lehman: That was another of the complications. He had a 

passion for these matters. He was elsewhere and he 
wanted to be it in Dramatic Art. He was terribly 
hurt by not being invited to create the thing. But 
he was a man of cut-and-dried ideas and attitudes, 
and they had been cut-and-dried before his time, they 
had shriveled. He was a nice guy. 

First, he wasn t asked to be chairman; Deutsch 
asked me to do it after talking to Sproul. Then I 
did not ask him to come right in and sit as co- 
chairman and find the people, because after I had 
talked with him a couple of times, talks that he 
initiated, I felt his view did not have the future 
in it. I could not see that this was seedbed stuff. 
Nonetheless, it was his passion. He was writing 
about the drama, so he had to be included for a little 
while, and it became really very difficult. All 
administration is a combination of tact and murder, 
of course, and I did not know which way that resolved 
itself. Then occurred his sudden, unexpected and 
fatal illness; within a few months he was dead. It 


Lehman: solved these problems that might not have been 

solved. Then there was all kinds of sorrow. He 
had a family and he himself had looked forward to 
life. It was really very sad. That is how that 
was, or at least how it looked to me. 

Rless: What happened after that? 

Lehman: I went around the country twice, interviewing 

people everywhere, and gradually we put together a 
workable group. Then I had more than I could do, 
with the Budget Committee which involved consulta 
tion, and the University Education and Welfare 
policy groups. 

I could not foresee that Harris would not move 
fast enough in getting rid of people, but I got on 
so well with him that we were really of one feel 
for the whole thing. It grew so fast, and he was 
so marvelous with the students that it seemed to me 
he could do it, and he did somehow. Once, later, 
after I had retired, I went back to the University 
as administrator of the department for one semester 
because Harris, in a dozen years, had never had a 
sabbatical, and he was exhausted. So the Harrises 
went away and I ran the department from here [Saratoga] 
and went up twice or three times a week. 

Then he retired from the chairmanship, and he 
had not brought in anyone who could succeed him, 
which I think is always a first obligation. As 
administrator you train your successors. But he 
didn t, so they went to the English Department again 

and picked out Travis Bogard, 
done better. 

They could not have 

Ben.lamin Lehman and the Theater 

The curious and, for the record, relevant thing 
is that the theater as such never interested me as 
much as simply reading a book. I was interested in 
the theater first on the purely human grounds. My 
father, as a boy and as a young man, had been the 
beau of Blanche Walsh. She was a New York girl, 
obviously of Irish extraction, whose father was 


Lehman: warden of the Tombs Prison. My father got to know 
her In his New York boyhood, and he was infatuated 
with her. 

In later years, when she was a world-famous 
emotional actress and came on tour into the West and 
I was a little boy, we saw her when she played in 
Missoula, Montana, or Spokane, Washington, and once 
in Wallace, Idaho on a one-night stand. I, goggle- 
eyed at thirteen at the great actress, set a pattern. 
Twice later in my life I had extended relations, 
once a marriage, with women of the theater, actresses. 
This gave some people the impression that I "was nuts" 
about the theater, which I never was in the sense 
that Irving Pichel was. I never wanted to direct 
a play, although I got involved in it. My first 
interest was purely personal. I went to see good 
plays, but then, I read good books and I went to see 
good paintings. It was like that. The accident that 
I was on the committee with Pepper and Durham to 
recommend the setting up of dramatic art led into 
my being asked to do the Job, and since I had been 
doing Jobs one after another, I undertook that in 

Riess: I imagined this as a strong parallel interest all 
these years. 

Lehman: It was an interest when I could little afford them 

back in the 1920s. I never had a passion for theater 
as I have a passion for black-and-white drawings or 
etchings never. I ve never had a passion for 
theater the way I ve had a passion for gardens. I 
liked good productions, but I know people who go to 
anything in theater Just because there is a proscenium 
arch or a stage in the center for theater in the 
round. They Just go to anything because it s theater. 
I could have more fun reading a play, and I didn t 
read very many at that. 

Hiess: You never wanted to direct a play? 

Lehman: No. I had directed two or three plays, again at the 
request of the chairman of the department when I 
taught at Washington State College. I had acted a 
very little at Harvard as an undergraduate, walk-on 
parts. At the University of Idaho, where I taught 
from 1911-191^, I played Saranoff in Arms and, the Man, 





and Orlando in As You Like It in the undergraduate 
productions in which the faculty members (I was only 
21) also took part. When I went to Washington State 
College at Pullman in 191*4-, Bruce McCulley, later 
professor at Pomona, was then chairman of the depart 
ment there and said, "Let s put on Everyman." Someone 
else directed it. The next year he wanted to try 
Hamlet and asked me to direct it. I directed it and 
played Hamlet, and we barnstormed for six weeks 
through all the small communities in Idaho, Washington, 
and Oregon. This seemed to me about the same quality 
of special interest that attach to my taking a sleep 
ing bag, knapsack, and going off for a weekend in 
the hills with four or five fellows taking a forty 

mile hike, 
are young; 

It s one of the things you do when you 
that is all I thought about it. 

When I found myself confronted with the first 
steps in creating the Department of Dramatic Art, 
I had a cumulative background of differing constit 
uents, but no overriding passion. It was something 
like doing the novel course or building up the Bible 
course. It all must sound, from the point of view of 
someone looking back, far more planned and far more 
ordered than it was. An oral history is good in 
that it shows that something like chance rather than 
design informs the progress. 

Things do seem out of perspective in my notes; I 
get a very dizzying picture of you from them. 

If you have a picture of me Just laying out a thirty 
or forty year career and moving from thing to thing, 
even if you cannot think of it as rising from thing 
to thing [laughter], it is not at all like that, 
come of a more or less banking family on both sides, 
though for a generation it lapsed. It never occurred 
to me to bother about any financial thing. It never 
occurred to me to think in terms of investments. 

Then suddenly I was in the Budget Committee and 
discovered this old thing in the family is all at 
the disposal of the University. It was there all 
the time, but I never used it. The idea of taking 
a course in economics in college revolted me. 
Business administration I would have fled. I lay 
stress on the chance evolutions, the chance emergences 
of aptitudes. The result of the work on the Budget 


Lehpanx Committee is that I ve become a raging financier 

[laughing]. I would not think of beginning the day 
without the Wall Street Journal . 



English Department Curriculum and Comparative 
Literature Course 

Lehman: It seems to me, Mrs. Rless, that it would be of 

great interest to those who come presently to look 
back at the history of the University in the decades 
from 1920 on, to have a record of how one man, 
looking back, viewed his activity in the adminis 
trative and policy-making phases. 

I had begun with the Idea that I would teach, 
that I would do nothing else. I had turned away from 
business, from money-making, and when I found that 
the University s stipends were not adequate to my 
needs I gave lectures at San Francisco State College, 
went out to Mills for a semester of lectures, and 
augmented my Income by really teaching the general 
public, doing pretty much with them what I did in 
the classroom in the lecture courses. It was, then, 
not my intention ever to be caught up in the executive 
and policy-making aspects of University life. None 
theless, I was so caught up. 

The earliest of these executive responsibilities 
that I recall was as chairman of a committee of the 
English Department appointed by Professor Walter 
Morris Hart to revise the curriculum In English. The 
curriculum in English had grown hit or miss under or 
out of the special interests of men like Gayley and 
It was not foursquare with the training needs of all 
the students. This first activity could easily be 
traced in the changes of the programs as shown in 
the Announcement of Courses for the years between 
1921 or ? 22 and the end of that decade. Anyone so 
reviewing the announcement of courses should take 
note of the development of the courses In Shakespeare 
by Professor Durham first, and the development of 
the courses in American literature by Professor 
Whlpple first. In any case, a general ferment for 
a better and more varied, and more comprehensive 
major program, and also general offering of the 
department came Into being. 


Rlessi When you came to Berkeley In the beginning of the 
Twenties the English Department had an enormous 
catalogue. They taught everything as most English 
departments do, yet It seemed that few of the people 
teaching had Ph.D. s. 

Lehman: I would have to look at that catalogue. Cllne had 
a Ph.D., Bronson had one, Parnham had one, Utter 
did not, Hart had, Kurtz had, Montgomery had, I had. 
It was a small department of fifteen or sixteen 

Rlesst I m thinking of the department as early as the 
catalogue listed "Writing for Business Use" and 
other courses In 1920. 

Lehman: In 1921 we had a committee on the reconstruction of 
the English Department offerings. English 41A-B was 
put In; Shakespeare was put In, the Junior course; 
English 1A-B were reconstituted. And because we 
were on the fringe of the educational world, we had 
a course called English IX for those people who had 
failed the English entrance examination. We didn t 
tell people who failed the examination that It was 
their responsibility to pass It; we gave them a 
course In the University. It was right at that 
point that Hart was recreating the department. 

Rless: Was Bruce a revolutionary In any way? I notice his 
teaching courses In social Ideas and liberal thought 
In literature. 

Lehman: Harold Bruce was another Ph.D. from Yale. He was 

Interested In Ideas and he was a liberal, In a sense 
so moderate that no modern liberal would be struck 
by this. He was an easygoing, tolerant, compassionate 
man who wished to pursue these things. His most 
focused Interest was In the history of science In 
literature, science used In literature. He wrote 
books on these things. He had been Interested In 
Blake, and Blake opened up a whole series of 
rebellious, non-conventional and liberating Ideas. 
He was a charming man, married to Walter Morris 
Hart s half-sister. 

Rless: I notice from an early catalogue that you were 

teaching a variety of courses: the Bible, Milton, 
Carlyle. Aren t people who teach Milton courses 
generally Milton scholars? 


Lehman i My specialty was supposed to be the nineteenth 
century, but we always had the feeling that the 
undergraduate course could be taught by anybody who 
knew what he was doing. I took It up once when I 
was asked to, I forget at whose Instance. When 
Merrltt Hughes, who was a great Milton scholar and 
published largely on the field, went to Wisconsin, 
the chairman said that there was no one else to 
teach the course and would I do it. That was another 
couple of years in which I stopped doing what I was 
doing and studied and read up on the subject. The 
course grew In those few years. We gave it In 
Wheeler 11; there were often a couple of hundred 
people there, I suppose partly because one had a 
persuasive way of presenting material. 

Bless: I know you did. People still talk about it. 
Lehman: It s not scholarship, but it is a good assist. 
Riess: The Bible course was also very popular. 

Lehman: It became very popular. The last years I had to 
give it in Wheeler Auditorium. The enrollments 
were six to eight hundred people. There were a 
lot of visitors. People came once in a hundred 
times to hear Lehman, the visitors that is. Twenty 
out of a hundred people would be there to see what 
a university professor thought about the Bible as 

I was chosen for this, again I do not know why* 
Montgomery came one day and said, "Will you do the 
Bible next year?" 

"I don t know any Hebrew." 

"Well, do it without Hebrew for a year and get 
Popper to give you a little coaching," which I then 
did so I could read an example or two to show what 
the sound had been like in the Greek text, in the 
Latin text, and I could always do the Luther text 
to show how the German version sounded. I learned 
a few things, even one or two that are not in the 
Bible but are derived from it, like the passage I m 
told they say as part of the Sabbath service In 
synagogues. The, "Hear, Israel, the Lord our God, 
the Lord is one," which is magnificent In Hebrew. 


Lehman: (repeats passage In Hebrew) Do you know It? 
Rless: I think I ve heard it before at a seder. 

Lehman: I went to a seder once, because I have considerable 
Jewish blood. A great-aunt of my cousin s, Sarah 
Bleringer, Invited me, when I was a freshman in 
college, to their seder service In the family. We 
were twenty-odd people at table, magnificent fun. 

This kind of thing I got up Hebrew for; beyond 
that, I read what was there and made my comments 
on that. The ancient Jews seem to me often mean- 
spirited and vengeful, cheating the stories of 
Jacob for instance, are appalling. You would not 
think of setting any of those stories up as an 
example to the young as you talked to them at the 
lunch table; nor, indeed, until the last few years, 
if what I read In the press is right, you would not 
have said to a college student, "Read the life of 
David and do likewise." [Laughter] So I said what 
I thought of their morals and made the overall 
point that If the Jews had not had an Incomparable 
literary talent and an Incomparable rabbinical or 
scholarly learned talent so that they kept the things 
in mind and handed them down generation after genera 
tion, there would be no Jewish religion. It would 
have gone the way all the others went. It was this 
incomparable talent I 

A consequence, perhaps, of that responsibility 
of reorganizing the curriculum led to my being asked 
to organize a course In comparative literature. 
Professor George Rapall Noyes was the chairman of a 
committee to develop certain courses and he assigned 
me the duty of laying out the first course available 
to freshmen and sophomores. It was natural that 
Noyes should have been chosen for this. He had been 
a professor of English. He had been trained in the 
Greek and Latin classics and he had, In his years in 
Berkeley, become a student of Russian and the Slavic 
languages, and was, at the time in question, professor 
of Russian and Slavic Languages. That course In 
comparative literature was Intended for students who 
wished to open windows on the whole range of great 
literature and the cultures out of which great 
literature arose, from the Old Testament down to 
contemporary Russian and Scandinavian, French, Italian 


Lehman: and German letters. 

At Noyes 1 suggestion I undertook the planning 
of the course. We had, of course, no faculty in 
comparative literature. But we had faculties in all 
the several literatures that would be under review, 
so that we laid out the course with reference to 
the available professors, scholars, critics in the 
several fields and it was my responsibility, first, 
to plan the course roughly, then to discuss it in 
committee, then to refine the plan, and finally, 
in successive months to find in the faculty men who 
would be willing to come in and lecture. 

The result of this was a very stimulating and 
suggestive review of the literary scholars and 
critics on the faculty open to any student who chose 
to enroll In the course. In the best year, as I 
remember, we had something Just under thirty lec 
turers, each man feeling the challenge of the course, 
the freshness of it for one thing, and also the 
competitive success of it. So that in after years, 
often thirty, thirty-five years later, people who 
took the course said that it was the most extra 
ordinary experience of their lives to see all these 
men operate on what is essentially the same thing, 
the human vision of the human experience rendered 
through a given personal mind. 

Riess: Could you tell me a little more of the organization 
of this? Was it a one or two semester course? 

Lehman: It was a two semester course for six units, and the 
first lectures were given by men like James Turney 
Allen, the great specialist on Euripides, and men 
like Ivan Llnforth on Sophocles. We postponed the 
Bible until we came to the point where the transla 
tions would fit in, but did have one earlier lecture 
on the literature as Hebrew literature. 

Hiess: And did the men meet together in conference with you 
to plan this? 

Lehman: No. I went to see men, talked about the idea, and 
what was hoped for, not what was expected ever. 
[Laughing] You don t do that with senior colleagues. 
Just what you hope. And the first ones came in, and 
being, in the case of Allen and Llnforth, and George 


Lehman: Calhoun, who by the way was the first lecturer on 
Homer, being men of that capacity they did first 
rate Jobs. Then I would circularize all the people 
who were going to lecture In the course during the 
year with a list of who was appearing when for the 
next month, and men to come later would drop In and 
hear a lecture, and then we would discuss comparatively 
what was to be done. I did not ride herd. I dropped 
In out of Interest but never as watchdog, you see, 
and the whole thing had a really vibrant quality. 

Hlesst And how was It graded? 

Lehman: We had a teaching assistant who operated with me. 

The examinations were made, after consultation with 
the Individuals. I put together an examination, then 
asked men to choose among questions, to prefer some 
if they had preferences, to say whether they thought 
the examination was too crowded or too skimpy or 

Well, it is obvious that a course like this 
prospers only as long as somebody is enthusiastically 
and attentively pursuing the successive small advances 
and working carefully and tactfully to drop somebody 
out and put somebody else in. The consequence, since 
it depends so on one man, is that when, in 1925, I 
went abroad on half sabbatical, I had to turn it 
over to someone. That someone was Professor Bruce. 
He had great charm, great tact, excellent adminis 
trative ability, and the course went ahead as it 
should have gone, but it happened also that Walter 
Morris Hart, becoming Vice-president of the University, 
had to give up his very Important post, as the Dean 
of the Summer Sessions, and Bruce became Dean of the 
Summer Sessions. As Dean he had to give his mind to 
other more complex and more arduous matters than the 
course in Comparative Literature. The result of these 
events, which had nothing to do with the success of 
the course, was that the course needed revivification 
when I came back. But, William Popper, who was 
chairman of the Committee on Committees, greeted me 
upon my return from Europe with a request that I 
undertake the chairmanship of the Senate s Committee 
on the Library. 

Rless: This public lecturing that you did.... 


Lehman: Well, that I found refreshing, you know, because 

I had no obligation, just to Interest and amuse or 
illuminate, whatever it happened to be. I wasn t 
educating anybody to measure or to be measured. For 
Instance, for four or five years it was a series at 
the Women s City Club at 11 o olock on a Thursday 
morning and I Just went over every Thursday morning 
for I don t know how long maybe eighteen, maybe 
twenty-two weeks. But I think that was more 
characteristic in those days than now. In any case, 
that s what I did there. 

The Library Committee 

I became chairman of the Library Committee at 
Popper s request, and there was a large question 
then: what did a Library, like the Library at the 
University in Berkeley, set out to do? We needed a 
review of accumulation policy. Up until that time 
the Library Committee had been very busy, not on 
what seemed to me central, but on what seemed to me 
incidental, making the books comfortably available 
to faculty and students. So in that period we set 
out to say what were the main ends. 

As early, I think, as 1926 or 1927, we laid out 
the Pacific Basin, a decade or fifteen years before 
anybody else in America went hard to work on signifi 
cant developments for the study of what may be seen 
as the "great lake" of the future all these civili 
zations that rim the Pacific. 

We were the beneficiaries of an earlier fore 
sight on the part of a man named Rees, I think, who 
left a fund with a five thousand dollar a year income 
which was to be spent for books on the five great 
civilizations of Asia. So there were already some 
things there. Also there had been some interested 
people working on the Japanese and Chinese collec 
tions, Edward Thomas Williams and a couple of 
others teaching in the Oriental areas, and there had 
accumulated a great many things, hit or miss, in the 
Library that had not yet been catalogued. Our 
periodical titles were good only in areas where the 


Lehmant University was strong, but if there were sets and 
series from Tasmania, we didn t have them. No 
money had been set aside for finding out Just what 
we had and what needed to be filled in. So, that 
was the first order of business within the general 
plan of turning to the Pacific Basin. We were on 
the fringe of it, as well as on the fringe of the 
Eastern world, and we had better begin. 

We set up the idea that this was, at that time, 
the only great University or potentially great 
University on this coast, and therefore it was the 
unavoidable obligation of the University of California 
in Berkeley you see UCLA, had hardly begun it was 
the unavoidable obligation to collect the works for 
everything from the Maori Civilization up through 
Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia into Japan and China 
and on. We set this as a major objective, in spite 
of the fact that at that time there were very few 
men on the faculty whose fields these collections 
would represent. There were one or two people in 
Chinese and Japanese. There was no one in India s 
history. There was a little work in the Near East 
Popper was a first rate man in Hebrew and also 
worked in Egyptian, I think, and we used all of 
these men as advisors. 

We also, in those days, had available Indian 
students "rag heads," the undergraduates called 
them. There were a considerable number of students 
from India, and these were very often graduate 
students. And so, consulting with them informally 
we would get clues. We also reviewed the materials 
in the Library of Congress catalogue and those, I 
think, at Toronto or Ottawa. There is one very 
fine collection up there. Well, this was a major 
thing that occurred to me, and it was strongly 
backed by two or three other members of the committee 
and became library policy. 

Then in that time we did another thing that I 
think those looking back might find revealing. The 
University was very strong, for instance, in sub 
tropical agriculture and there had been for some 
years clamor that we get more of the early books on 
roses, those being a sub-field. Well, it had occurred 
to me that with the Huntington Library Just beginning 
there might be a great deal of duplication of different 


Lehman: sorts, especially about English Literature and 

American Literature, and this Idea expanded Itself 
to say, "What about the whole coast? Why should 
we spend a hundred thousand dollars for the early 
voyages Into the Pacific for the Pacific Basin 
history? If these were available for a specialist, 
why couldn t the University supply a travel allow 
ance for him to go, for Instance, to British 

So I went up and down the coast, supported by 
the administration, with funds made available, and 
I talked with everybody In libraries from the head 
of the Huntlngton Library to the people In the 
Portland Public Library to the people In the British 
Columbia libraries. And at British Columbia, I 
found, they had the voyages. We didn t have to go 
out and spend all that money for those, there were 
other things we could fill In. And at Portland In 
the public library I found a collection on roses 
that had been given by an early settler who had 
made a hobby of collecting these things, a collection 
on roses that I was assured had everything that the 
great collection In Cairo has except one Arabic 
book. Why should we have gone ahead with that, you 
see to get the fringe, difficult things when we 
could get photostats or give a man a hundred dollars 
to go up, study them, come back, or borrow them when 
they weren t too great rarities. So we made an 
informal grid (which was later much more fully 
developed and especially in the many campuses of the 
University, but it began here). We made a small 
listing of where things were. 

Rless: Did this become inter-library loan? 

Lehman i No, Inter-library loan was set up as soon as the 
State Teachers College on Vermont in Los Angeles, 
became part of the University. That is, the inter- 
library loan from campus to campus, and Davis had 
always borrowed books from us, you see, and, of 
course, San Francisco. Then the inter-library loans 
from Harvard, or Princeton, or Chicago or the Library 
of Congress, those had always been well, I don t 
know how far back that goes, but In my time that 
had always been. When I was at Harvard in 1917, I 
remember getting a book from the Union Theological 
Seminary in New York. The library sent for It, it 


Lehman: came, I used It, and they sent it back. 

Bless: Useful when you re wanting one book, but when you 

want a whole area then you go where it is. Was the 
rest of your committee as vigorous and as Interested 
as you were? 

Lehman: Well, you know, you get one or two men who naturally 
have an enthusiasm about a given thing and help 
along with it. They all helped very much in finding 
the gaps in sets and series. Beyond that, they Just 
back you thoroughly and then you have to sit down 
and do the telephoning or see the people and get it 
done. That s what the chairman is. Even if the 
idea originates with a member of the committee, the 
chairman has to get it done. 

When I became chairman, Professor William 
Popper, who was chairman of the Committee on Committees, 
sent for me one day and said, "What should we do about 
the Library?" After a year on the committee I had 
been churning rebellion at the things seven members 
of the faculty wasted their time on In two-hour 
meetings, how to cut down the delivery interval for 
a book for a freshman, and I poured It out. At the 
end of an hour he said, "You re chairman next year; 
do these things." [Laughter] I started, in a rudi 
mentary way, The Friends of the Bancroft Library, and 
started a five-year plan of development, accessions, 
and fill-ins. 

And we made another change in what seemed to me 
to be the development of the collection. It had been 
the practice to order every book individually, to 
decide about it and order It. Instead, with the 
cooperation of a great many members of the faculty 
we set up a list which has been brought up to date, 
a list of contemporary writers all of whose works 
should be gotten for a university library, regardless 
of what the critics said about them at any given 
moment. Before that, you see, If It Interested the 
Librarian, or a professor of English, they got this 
book of Gertrude Atherton s but that one, they 
didn t care about getting. Edith Wharton, Dreiser, 
it was piecemeal buying. So now there was an 
authentic list in the accession department several 
hundred long of contemporary writers in several 
languages, and there was a special fund set up so 


Lehman: that it didn t come out of department budgets. Those 
things were ordered by a carefully-trained librarian 
assistant whenever they were published. 

Then we also in those days made a review of the 
rare books that shouldn t be out on the shelves, 
such as a first-folio edition of the plays of Beaumont 
and Fletcher, which is very hard to get, right out 
on the open shelves where anybody could walk off with 

Another innovation was that whenever we got a 
new man in any area we set up a special fund. "Go 
through our collections i*n your field and say what 
they need, and draw on this fund." Where the collec 
tions were strong, as in the classics, we might give 
a man $500 which was a good deal of money in those 
days. Where they were weak we might give him $1500 
or $2000, and say, "Now draw on this until you have 
filled what you think are our gaps." We began then 
to use the interest, special knowledge and the 
enthusiasm of individuals in building the Library. 
I was in later years told by both Hart and Deutsoh 
that this was the first time that this kind of 
approach was made by the academic committee. 

Upon initial exploration, I saw this Library 
Committee assignment was going to be a very large 
undertaking, that it would be very exigent when one 
looked at the Library, and even more exigent when one 
looked at the librarians. The Librarian, Harold 
Leupp, was a delightful man, very friendly to me, 
and steadily so over a long period. His father had 
been a friend and, I think, a biographer of Theodore 
Roosevelt. Theodore Roosevelt had recommended the 
father s son, Harold, to Benjamin Ide Wheeler and 
so he had come to Berkeley as Librarian after the 
long, casual librarianshlp of Joseph Cummlngs 
Rowell. And it s Important to have Rowell s name 
In the record because in 1920 the faculty thought of 
him, still, although he had been retired for several 
years, as knowledgeable about the collections in a 
way that Leupp could never be. Guy Montgomery, with 
characteristic wit, once called him the Catalogue 

Well, Leupp was not a scholar. He was trained 
on the technical side of librarlanship. He had 


Lehman: personal Interests. For Instance, he thought it was 
very Important to get a great many travel books 
which described the world. He was Interested in 
getting the reference books section well done. He 
was interested in the collections but he didn t 
have a wide, imaginative picture of what the collec 
tions should be. He felt ill at ease with learned 
men and he never sat with them at the Faculty Club 
in days when that was a very fluid group, you know, 
to find out what they wanted, what they thought 
should be done. He found himself enormously engaged 
by all the technical business of cutting down the 
amount of time it took to get a book out of the 
stacks for a freshman, the operation of the Library, 
and even on that side he hardly had the Imagination 
to do it, to organize it for the future only for 
the present. And he was interested in a surprising 
extent in having the books "in" the Library; it 
annoyed him that so many were out all the time. 

A consequence of his being what he was was my 
urgent need to get in there and do something about 
the collections. There was a little difficulty at 
the beginning, for the Librarian was an ex-offlcio 
member of the committee, and I as chairman and he 
as Librarian and ex-officlo member and secretary 
were often, at the beginning, in sharp opposition, 
I did not think a library committee of seven faculty 
members should sit around and discuss whether it 
took nineteen minutes or twenty-one minutes to 
service a freshman waiting for a book. I did not 
think these men should sit around and discuss 
whether we needed 150 more square feet of space for 
a reference room or 150 less. I thought these were 
matters that he should decide, that he should find 
the facts and decide those matters and, if he 
couldn t, he could discuss it with the committee 

In any event, after about three months we got 
the center of interest for the committee shifted. 
We developed areas of interest. We changed the 
budgeting of the funds for books. We withheld a 
certain proportion of the book available money from 
the department allotments and made it available to 
those departments who could make requests for 
important things that they couldn t afford to buy 



in their allotments, 

But these were all comparatively 



The main thing, over a period of several years, 
was that we committed the University to the view 
that the basic thing in a university library was 
the sets and series. A university library needs, 
of course, Individual books. It needs all the works 
of great writers, great specialists. But the publi 
cation from way back in all European countries and 
in America of sets and series had been neglected. 
There were great holes, for instance, in important 
periodicals, like the Gentlemen *s Magazine in England. 
There were gaps, sometimes for a decade, in the 
publications of the most important learned societies 
lost, strayed, stolen, or never gotten. 

First we committed the University to the policy, 
then we committed outselves to remedying deficiencies 
of all kinds where we didn t have the whole thing 
we filled it in and sometimes it took years, and it 
may well be that a few of the things we sought 
haven t yet been found after a third of a century. 
In any case, that is what we set as basic principle 
that a university library is only as good as its 
collection of sets and series publications. 

I ought to say parenthetically that this was an 
enormous enterprise. We had to get committees from 
every department to go over all the sets and series 
in the field of the department and check. It was 
expensive, in terms of assistance to these committees. 
It took countless hours of conference between the 
chairman of the Library Committee and the committees. 
And then it took a great deal of time to decide what 
order of priorities should be assigned because the 
needs were for hundreds of thousands of dollars 
worth of stuff. This was basic. 

This seems like a natural thing for Leupp to have 
done. The most minimal kind of instinctive reaction 
to a library is to have something complete, I mean, 
sort of almost the definition of it. 

Well, he didn t do it except where the people in the 
fields pushed of course, he had very little money. 
He never had the courage to ask for money. We told 
the President what was what. You can t have scholars 


Lehman : 



without having the documents. You can t have the 
documents without the money to buy them, so this 
was the beginning, and even so nothing like the 
vast expansion of funds that came after Donald 

Apparently the Library Committee hadn t been a 
committee that had force or Influence before. 

No, this was the first time ever. And It was, of 
course, what Popper wanted It to be, "Stir that up 
and get things done, and get things done that should 
be done for a library." 

Did you have a reputation as somebody who would 
stir things up? 

Well, I suppose by this time, I don t know, 
anyway this Is what he asked me to do. 


It sounds like once the Library policy was established, 
the Library machinery could carry on. 

What was done In those five years or so was carried 
on pretty much, and then grasped firmly, revitalized, 
and perhaps re-defined as policy and as program by 
James D. Hart when he became chairman of the Library 
Committee. He was one of the best men that could 
have been found for a Job like that and made an 
unequalled contribution. 

Then somewhat later, as former chairman of the 
Library Committee, I was on the committee that picked 
out Donald Coney. And I remember the real, the basic, 
Issue there was strongly affected by the developed 
Idea that we should get the most eminent man for every 
vacancy; this had suddenly become an obsession. The 
most eminent man. I ve forgotten who was thought 
to be the most eminent man, I think a man named 
Metcalf who was librarian at Harvard, but I m not 
sure Just who It was. But the Issue was: were we 
going to get the man whose name Itself would add 
lustre, though we won t have the books under him; or 
shall we get a man who understands this kind of 

Joel Hildebrand and I battled the other members 
of the committee, I remember this is history, so I 


Lehman: cam tell It until finally we had the policy accepted 
that what we wanted was not a man who himself would 
be a lustrous figure, but a man whose experience 
would suggest that he could do several Important 
things. One, that he could persuade the President 
to spend more money on the Library. Another, that 
he would understand a Library that was caught at 
whatever our then book population was, five or six 
hundred thousand, not a man like the librarian at 
Harvard who had unrivaled collections of rarities 
and four or six million books there already. 

We were to get that kind of a man who could 
persuade the President to hand over more money, and 
who would have a sense of what It was to have a 
Library at such a book number level, and a sense of 
a multi-university. (This was the first time I ever 
heard the phrase, and I ve forgotten which of us 
used It first, though Clark Kerr s been using It 
lately, as you know [laughter].) But our view was 
that we were not like Harvard which could leave 
great areas vacant, knowing they were taken care of 
In Boston or at Amherst, or down at Yale; that on 
this coast, with a possible hole or two filled at 
Stanford, at that time we had to do It most of It, 

We went after recommendations all over the 
country. I remember we had forty or fifty recommenda 
tions, and we shook these down to two or three, and 
then finally it was Donald Coney. Well, of course 
he s done an absolutely knockout Job. He got the 
money; he s Imaginative, resourceful, Ingenious; he s 
a useful administrator. 

Rless: Was this Sproul s policy, the most eminent man theory? 

Lehman: Perhaps, but It was sort of In the air. Somebody, 

maybe I, had said It when It was a matter of getting 
somebody In the classics or In German, or whatever, 
you know. "Who s the most distinguished man In the 
world?" And this sort of took hold; It was Just the 
time for It to take hold. I don t know who said It, 
It was Just In the air, you see. But there were Jobs 
for which the most distinguished man was not what 
you wanted. A librarian had something to do, not 
something to be. 


Rless: Had there been difficulty in getting financial 
support for the Library? 

Lehman: Well, not difficulty, but we were in the thirties 
and short of funds for everything. There hadn t 
been difficulty, but it was hard to Justify, when 
funds were short, the expenditure of $100 for a four- 
volume work that would be very useful when a man got 
around, in fifteen or twenty years though you didn t 
yet know who he was to studying this field. Whereas, 
it was perfectly clear that the money could be used 
at once up in the physics lab or the chemistry lab 
because here was a project that they needed potassium 
for, [Laughter] So, it was something like that. 

But once you made your case, as a matter of 
fact, Robert Gordon Sproul on the whole would find 
the money, if it was within the budget. But it Is 
also true that from some time around 1920 on we were 
short of money the depression being what it was for 
the expansive strength of the University. And then, 
of course, because the enrollment dropped during the 
war, people were doing other things, the budget shrank 
on other grounds. So it really wasn t until the end 
of the war was in sight that the money loosened up. 

Riess: You spoke of the policy of not duplicating other 
West Coast special collections: do you think that 
the University now would feel the same way about 
letting other campuses and other colleges develop 
great collections? Don t you think the University 
has gotten more to where It Just has got to have sheer 
quantity as well as quality? 

Lehman: Do you mean do I think that they would be willing, say, 
that the University of Utah has the best stuff on 
the Mormons? 

Riess: Yes, 

Lehman: Much of that they can t possibly get except by 

photostat or offprint of some sort and that is what 
is more and more being done. But the University I 
don t think any university tries to corral everything. 
The conception of the University Library as everything 
is ridiculous. We go more and more into photostat, 
and offprint and microfilming. There s something to 
be gained by looking at the work Itself and that s 


Lehman: why scholars travel, go to the British Museum, the New York 
Public. This is particularly true of manuscript 
collections. There, of course, Professor James 
Hart has done a marvelous Job, and Professor Hammond 
before him Hart at large for the Library and Hammond 
especially for Bancroft, but Hart also for Bancroft 
because he was in there for a year or two. 

Riess: Was this decade a time when all around the country 
libraries were being recognized as most essential? 

Lehman: Yes, it was, and, of course, it was Important to get 
people all over the place to think of sending their 
extra books to libraries. 

Oh, I ought to add one thing. There had been 
a tendency in American libraries and particularly, 
I think, in Berkeley to say, "We don t want that, 
that s trash." Well, one man s trash is another 
man s treasure in this matter, and talking about it 
at dinner parties and teas around the state, but 
particularly In the Bay Area, I discovered that 
people threw away things that would be treasures to 
the University. They didn t know where to give 
them and so they sent them to the Seamen s Institute, 
you see. 

So, we got a group of women, I think seventeen 
of them met one afternoon at the house of one of 
the ladies, and I talked to them about this and 
they talked about it around. (They said you never 
have enough topics at dinner parties.) The first 
thing we knew people were sending a volume, a dozen 
volumes, were calling up and asking whether we 
would call for three hundred books. Books get worn 
out in the University Library even if they re 
duplicates of something, you see. So we had all that 
going. That had never been done before. Of course, 
the San Francisco earthquake and fire had destroyed 
the early libraries except for the Sutro collection. 
It was a private collection, and we tried to add that 
to the University but we didn t succeed, in my time 
on the committee. But in certain categories, there 
weren t many books to begin with from San Francisco, 
because all the private collections, whether ten or 
ten thousand volumes, were destroyed. 


The Novel Course and English 

Lehman: In these years I kept up writing novels, short 

stories and published the hero theory. Then I got 
assigned In the English Department by Professor 
Montgomery to the chairmanship of graduate studies, 
and those, I think, were built up In quite normal, 
ordinary ways. 

But several things took over In the teaching 
area besides routine courses. First, the writing 
courses, which Professor Hart had asked me to 
Institute since I wrote stories and novels, throve 
and I gave a great deal of time to them, since I 
read everything myself. There was no such thing as 
having a reader, you see, In the short story courses. 
And then, all of a sudden In the thirties, Professor 
Utter was dramatically and terribly killed, and 
suddenly I found myself, though I was chiefly a 
teacher of writing, and had Invented English 41 as 
a large writing course, I found myself In spite of 
all this handed the novel course between one day 
and the next. 

Professor Utter did we speak of that at all 
here? Professor Utter belonged to a little club, 
I think, called the Odd Volumes Club, and they met 
at the Faculty Club for dinner one night to hear a 
paper and then left, strolling out on a very windy, 
windy night strolling out through the glade on 
their various routes home. Professor Brodeur told 
me a few days later that he saw Robert Utter light 
his pipe and realized he himself didn t have a match. 
He called to Utter and said, "Would you lend me a 
match?" and Utter stopped, lent him the match, took 
back his folder and walked on up past the Infirmary. 
And as he passed the Infirmary the high wind blew 
a eucalyptus down which fell directly across his 
head and crushed his skull. Now the accident of 
pausing with the match got him there just in time. 
He was unconscious at once but taken into the 
Infirmary which was a hundred feet away. He died 
the next morning and the next day I was teaching the 
novel course. 

Now, my specialty had been the nineteenth century 
and my teaching practice had been centered on English 


Lehman: 41A-B, "writing based on great books of the nine 
teenth and twentieth century," or "In relation to 
great books," I think It then was. 

Rless: Is this critical writing? 

Lehman : It was anything. This was for sophomores and there 
were a wonderful lot of students In It over the 

Rless: I mean, how was It "based on" great books? 

Lehman: I lectured about the books. For Instance, The Idea 
of thg University. The Education of Henry Adams. 
The Origin of the Species, The Prelude, In Memoriam. 
a novel, any kind of book. I lectured perhaps twice 
a week on books and once a week on the techniques of 
writing. Then the students had to write six papers, 
two expositions, and the other four could be any 
thing they wanted, historical writing, biographical 
writing, short story writing, poems; and the course 

Riess: The short stories and poems would be something of 
the style or Just anything? 

Lehman: Any way they wished to write it, it didn t have to 
connect. I wanted them to read and write and it 
didn t matter whether they wrote a criticism of what 
they had read, you see, a critical expository work, 
or whether what they had read suggested, "Let me see 
what I can do in that kind." It didn t matter at 
all provided that all the hour examinations, of 
which there was one a month, and the finals, were 
essays. I constructed the topic sentence for the 
essay-final and let them get at it through that 
and they had to stay by the form implicit in the 
topic sentence. 

This English ^1 throve and it built up little 
by little until after starting with 35 or bQ people, 
we had 60 or 70. Then a funny thing happened. I 
met at a dinner in San Francisco Rosamund Plnchot 
who was then Just free from her theater experience 
in "The Miracle" with Relnhardt. A beautiful woman, 
a young woman, she had been much discontented with 
her life and she decided, after a summer of working 
in the canneries (the daughter of a millionaire, 


Lehman: you see, but getting out there with the people), she 
decided she wanted to go ahead with school. Having 
sat beside her at dinner, I was an easy mark. She 
telephoned and said "Can I come and talk to you 
about what courses to take?". She had the catalogue, 
she had looked through, and she wanted English courses 
as a special student and we found some and after a 
couple hours of pleasant talk she went away. The 
next thing I knew was three or four days later a 
headline, or at least heavy top print, "Rosamund 
Plnohot goes to UC" and then down below "She will 
take courses" and one of the courses she said she 
was going to take I didn t tell her to was my 
English 41A-B. 

This was all a week or ten days before the fall 
term began, and when I went In to meet this class 
which had been running 60 to ?0, there were nearly 
300 people there I The corridor was Jammed. It was 
the publicity. I never saw so good an illustration 
of it, though I had one or two more. You get into 
that situation and everybody wants they want to 
see Rosamund Plnchot. But also the result of that 
was that the enrollment went up almost 100 per cent. 
It was an exhausting thing and I didn t have much 
energy left for anything else. 

Then, as I was saying, in the thirties I took 
up with the novel course. For a period of several 
years I had no time for other things, because I had 
to read the extremely time-consuming documents in 
the novel area, and even when I had read them a couple 
of times before, I had to read them again, so that 
weeks went by without my having time for anything 

That course gradually built Itself up so that 
It was not only time-consuming In the matter of the 
knowledge of the documents and the thinking about 
them; it was also time-consuming because by the time 
you had had three or four hundred students, there were 
always people wanting to bypass the readers and 
teaching assistants to talk to you about their papers. 
I found myself really drowned in the activity that 
arose from the course or went into the making of 
the lectures In the course. The more students there 
were, the more conferring there was, especially in 
English ^1A-B, although I had a succession of first- 
class teaching assistants who were trained in the 


Lehman: course first, like Professor George Hand now of 
Santa Barbara, Professor Parkinson of Berkeley; 
Michael Wilson, the writer for the motion pictures; 
Ralph Robinson, who died as a result of war Injuries 
In the Second World War; and many others. 

The story writing courses were also consuming 
In themselves, because I read all the materials In 
those. They were limited to twelve or fifteen 
students, but I read everything. They were usually 
upper division, but any talented student could get 
in. The only talented student who was never admitted 
was William Saroyan, who wrote when he was 18 years 
old and asked to be admitted to the course. Since 
he was not 21 he could not enter as a special student. 
I had to write to him and tell him he would have to 
enroll as a regular student. Being Bill Saroyan, 
of Fresno, heretic, loner, that was nothing for him, 
so he Just said to hell with it all. Afterwards, 
in later years when I got to know him, it was once 
or twice a matter of laughter between us. 

Rless: You did get good students coming Into English 41? 
Lehman: Oh, wonderful. 

Riess: You didn t have to struggle with students who, you 
know, you would look at their papers and groan. 

Lehman: In the first place, not many such would come, but 
then I had awfully good teaching assistants, I had 
trained them myself in the course. I got somebody 
who had done well In the course to be reader or a 
teaching assistant. 

No, a few people who you had to struggle with 
to make them C- Instead of D, though not many. But 
there were awfully good people, people who had 
careers in writing. 

Riess: What were the prerequisite English courses? 

Lehman: 1A-B, or special status, as somebody who was 21 years 
old could always take the course as a special student. 

Rless: Do you think that there were proportionately as many 
inadequate writers and speakers of English in those 
days as there seem to be now? 


Lehman: No, not so many such people oame to college. There 
were always some; even when I went to Harvard in 
190? there were C- students galore. They didn t or 
they couldn t write well and they Just got by. I 
think that there were not as many badly prepared 
ones then. The selection took place not at the 
college entrance level but In the family. "He s not 
college material, why should we waste money sending 
him?" But I m not sure about that. I*-m talking 
perhaps more out of my hat. 

Rless: I wondered If you noted periods coinciding with 

changing educational methods In the high schools that 
yielded better English students. 

Lehman i I was never In a position to Judge that. We had 
sometimes more exciting students, sometimes fewer 
exciting students, but always enough to make pace, 
to read the papers to the class and have them say, 
"God, I wish I could do that," and try. 

Ph.D. Candidates and "The Image of the Work" 

In the late twenties and early thirties these 
were all very time-consuming activities. There was 
another. When I first came to Berkeley, there were 
some candidates for the M.A. and one or two rather 
eccentric candidates for the Ph.D. in English. These 
candidates for the Ph.D. never came to anything. The 
instructors who worked with them finally gave them 

Rless: Why? 

Lehman: They were not good enough. They didn t have the 
capacity. They Imported illusions about their 
aptitude; they wanted to do things that were, then 
at least, regarded as eccentric, undemonstrable, not 
offering the disciplines of the mind that writing a 
dissertation offered. 

Riess: But they were not eccentric In an interesting way? 


Lehman: No, Just off-center. 

Then there were, back In the Twenties, one or 
two good students, and they turned up In my seminar, 
students who afterward had notable academic careers 
as writers of books. One of these was Lionel 
Stevenson, who became a professor In one of the mid- 
Southern universities and has written biographies 
of Meredith and critical works on Butler and so on. 
Another was Helen Pearce, who had taken an M.A. at 
Radcllffe and who came down from Salem, Oregon. She 
was a woman of some means, a professor or a teacher 
at that time In Willamette University. She began to 
make a research on Arthur Henry Hallam. These were 
the first two graduate students, except for Sister 
Mary Madaleva. 

Sister Madaleva became, In due course, one of 
the most notable women university faculty In this 
country. She became President of St. Mary s College 
at Notre Dame, and before that she was dean of 
Instruction or vice-president at St. Mary s of the 
Wasatoh In Salt Lake. At the time she studied with 
me, she was In residence In the community of the 
Holy Cross In Woodland, California. 

Sister Madaleva took my course, the nineteenth 
century seminar, where she worked on Hopkins and 
one or two other religious poets, but her great 
desire was to write a dissertation on the Middle 
English poem called The Pearl . She said she would 
only write it if I would help with the supervision. 
So Professor Benjamin P. Kurtz and I undertook that. 
Sister Madaleva finished it with great distinction. 
It was published at once by Appleton s, called Pearl . 
A Study (1925). It was the first prose work in a 
series of a dozen from her pen. She also wrote and 
published as many as eight or nine volumes of verse, 
in addition to being president of a university. The 
foreword to the book on The Pearl was written by 
Professor Kurtz, but the book was dedicated, "To my 
assistant, in gratitude." If you turn back in my 
copy of the work, the flyleaf reads, "Dear Professor 
Lehman, Withdrawing the reticence of print, let me 
here rededicate to you, my assistant, this, our 
Joint work. If it were doubly worthy it would still 
be yours in gratitude." It s signed on the Feast 
of Santa Barbara, 1925. 


Lehman: The reason I read that into the record is that 
It shows where the time went for almost a decade 
there. If you add the novel courses, the writing 
courses where so much manuscript had to be read, 
there was no time for research, except in connection 
with courses or projects like this. There was no 
time for writing much fiction. I had, in 1925, 192?, 
and 1928, published three books, then, suddenly, 
there was no time to make any more. I found this 
activity as absorbing; I had no particular drive to 
be a novelist or an historical literary scholar, 
and it didn t matter to me. 

The general view here is perhaps to be stated 
under the question: "What, either of inner preferences 
or institutional necessities, caused a professor in 
those decades to move from writing three books and 
fifty articles in one decade to practically nothing 
in the next decade?" I suppose it is a combination 
of inner promptings and the conditions in the institu 
tion. I never thought of myself as a writer primarily, 
One wrote, as one lectured, because at the moment 
that was the prompting plus the need. But by the 
1930s "the need seemed to be predominant (and it 
completely used up any creative forces that I had) 
for a member of the faculty who would, with great 
openness of mind and great flexibility, advise 
graduate students moving toward the degree. This 
accounts, in any case, for the fact that a six- or 
seven-year period of production abruptly was followed 
by a period in which my production was all through 
other people. 

These young doctor candidates in the period I m 
speaking of turned out works; every one printed, 
every one of distinction. Finally, in the 1950s, 
they decided to make an honor volume, a Festschrift. 
Each of them contributed an essay and published The 
Image of the Work. Essays in Criticism. I cite 
this again, I hope in no vainglory, because it is 
evidence of how, in those decades, a university 
professor s time and energies were absorbed in some 
thing that was at the same time teaching and research. 

What lay behind this volume was that in the 
seminars I always Insisted that if they could raise 
in a reader s mind one fully understood image of a 
work, they were equipped to go ahead and do whatever 


Lehman: they wished in the way of a dissertation. The 

result of that was that when Josephine Miles had a 
very original idea, which has made her a world- 
famous figure as of this date, and my colleagues 
in other fields in which she wanted to work wouldn t 
let her undertake the enterprise that begins with 
the statement of emotion in Wordsworth (Wordsworth 
and the Vocabulary of Emotion, U.C. Press, Berkeley 
1942). I gladly let her "doHCt because she had done 
a paper on the image of the work and I said It was 
evidence of capacity. 

The whole business of the "image of the work" 
was a fairly new, certainly a fresh statement for 
us here at the University of California in Berkeley, 
and affected the nature of our graduate studies. 
There is a statement, written rather hastily by me 
and without my knowing what was proposed, as to what 
I meant by the "image of the work" in the Preface. 
To expand, the conception I had was that if a 
graduate student at the beginning of his graduate 
studies could entertain in his mind a work in its 
totality and render his vision of that work in Its 
totality, he would have prepared himself in every 
essential way to proceed to the writing of a disser 

One day, when I was very busy with other matters, 
Professor Bertrand Evans came to me and asked If I 
would mind writing down briefly a statement of that 
conception. I said I would not mind, and I wrote 
it down somewhat casually. In the form in which I 
wrote it, It was printed In the Preface of the volume 
of essays called The Image of the Work , Essays In 
Criticism, by B.H. Lehman and others. The B.H.~~ 
Lehman contribution is an essay on Wutherlng Heights 
that I read to the English Conference in one of the 
four or five years preceding the publication of the 
volume. The committee in charge of the volume asked 
for the manuscript and I gave it to them in the form 
in which I had read it. They printed that as the 
first of the series, and made contributions themselves. 
Sister Madaleva was first; Bertrand Evans second; 
then Josephine Miles, Lionel Stevenson, Helen Fearce, 
Celeste Turner Wright, Wayne Shumaker, Percy Smith, 
Thomas Parkinson, and William Stelnhoff . These were 
not all of the graduate students who had worked with 
me in the preceding two decades, but they were the 


Lehman t ones who were available and had something they were 
ready to turn over for the volume. 

I will read these two or three sentences that 
constitute the focus of the procedure out of which 
the studies of the people who worked with me were 
developed. I said to them this: "Raise the whole 
work of literature in the remembering mind. See 
and study it as a solid reality, the universe of 
human manifestations functioning in a created 
environment of sufficient density to sustain the 
manifestations and the human beings. Consider the 
work in the light of the times it was written in, 
in the light of the author s demonstrable preoccupa 
tions, ideas, and attitudes, and in the light of the 
tradition of form in relation or in reaction to 
which it was conceived. What one says of the work 
of literature under these conditions of studious 
application should describe it as a work with 
characteristic qualities and attributes of its own 
and with all its relationships delineated." 

That is what I wrote within a half hour of the 
time Bert rand Evans came in, having this book 
secretly in mind. But it is a summary of what I 
believed, a summary of the literary procedures that 
were Involved in our common studies, for I always 
thought of the student and the professor making a 
study in common. In science the amount of work done 
by the director of a dissertation is usually recognized 
by putting his name on the publication along with that 
of the graduate student. That is not traditional and 
in my Judgment should not ever be developed as a 
method in the humanities, but the plain fact is that 
the kind generous recognitions accorded the director 
of a dissertation in the publication s preface stand 
for the same sort of thing. These decades were pretty 
busy with these works. 

Riess: Were these people s fields mostly nineteenth century? 
Is that why they came to you? 

Lehman: No, they were not. It came about that they developed 
work in other fields even when they began in the 
nineteenth century. Josephine Miles had ranged up 
and down the course of English literature. Bertrand 
Evans 1 great three volume work, of which Cambridge 
University Press has already published Volume 1 


Lehmani (Shakespeare s Comedies) , will be on the dramaturgy 
of Shakespeare. Sister Madaleva wrote an essay or 
two about nineteenth century figures but then went 
baok to The Pearl* Helen Pearoe and Lionel Stevenson 
stayed In the nineteenth century. Celeste Turner 
Wright, whom I took over when Professor Parnham 
went away on a sabbatical leave, was writing In the 
Elizabethan period and has since written In the more 
modern periods. She writes about Katherlne Mansfield 
In The Image of the Work series. Wayne Shumaker was 
interested In the autoblographer and autobiography 
as an art form and we developed what I thought was 
a very large vision of that In his dissertation. 
That necessarily meant going back through the 
centuries. Percy Smith was Interested In Shaw and 
wrote about Shaw, lately published a volume about 
Shaw. Parkinson s work was largely In the twentieth 
century, Yeats. Stelnhoff was In the nineteenth 
century. There were others besides these. 

One of the first dissertations back In the 
years when Sister Madaleva completed hers was Mrs. 
Hazard s The Frontier In American Literature, which 
she generously gave me great credit for In the 
preface. I think we made a breakthrough there and 
the book stood for a long while as an opener of new 

Perhaps the most notable person outside the 
academic world who wrote a dissertation with me in 
those years was Philip Parley. Philip Farley was a 
graduate, I think, of San Jose State, but he may 
have done his last year s work in Berkeley. He had 
a solid, clear, exact power of analysis, but did 
not, at the beginning, have access to his own 
literary sensibilities. This was clear after the 
beginning of the seminar, after the opening weeks 
of the seminar, and I remember thinking that that 
young man deserved a great deal of attention and 
required it, in fact, if he were to open up his 
abilities. After a good many conferences and much 
rewriting of the first chapter of a dissertation on 
a certain aspect of Thomas Hardy s work, he did open 
up. The writing of the dissertation became a real 
period of growth and maturing for him at the same 
time that it was a great pleasure for me to see it 
so become. 


Lehman: He finished Just at the end of the depression, 
sometime In the late thirties, and Jobs were not 
very abundant. So he took a position In Texas, In 
one of the Junior or state colleges down on the Texas 
Gulf coast. He was married and had children, or a 
child. He went Into the Army when the war came on. 
In the Army, by what steps I do not now recall, he 
came at last Into some sort of lieutenancy or maybe 
more. When the war was over, his superior officer 
recommended him for expository work In connection 
with any project and made the recommendation so 
clear and so firm that It moved up the echelons. 
The consequence of that was that he was assigned to 
a team to evaluate damage done by Allied bombing to 
oil and similar Institutions In the European theater 
of war. He was assigned to the group and presently 
he was the organizer of the material and the writer 
of the material. 

His report so Impressed the Immediate superior, 
a general I suppose, that he sent It through to 
General Marshall as an example of what these things 
should be. The next thing I knew, I had a note from 
htm telling me that General Marshall had sent for 
him. He said that he had read his report and asked 
where he had learned to write like that. The note 
says, "I learned It by writing a literary disserta 
tion with you, I told him." General Marshall asked 
him to come onto his staff and kept him there when 
he moved into the State Department. 

He had been here In this house several times 
for an afternoon of talk. His family live In San 
Jose, his parents, his brother, and I get report of 
how this has all come out In the great world. He 
told me that General Marshall asked him how he had 
learned to do this, then said he wanted to keep him 
on his staff, and that the things he wanted him to 
do would develop step by step. Phil Farley asked 
him, "Have you no further instructions now?" General 
Marshall said, "Yes, I have. I want you at all times 
to tell me the truth and especially about myself," 
which is the most astonishing thing really, isn t 

Phil Parley moved along. He was an Under 
secretary of State for awhile In relation to the 
Atomic Energy Commission. Because of the precision 
of his writing there would be no misunderstanding. 


Lehman i He then moved out of that Into the permanent 

ambassadorial staff and la at the moment the per 
manent associate ambassador to NATO, In Paris, and 
has been now for several years. This Is a long way 
from writing a dissertation on character situations 
repeating themselves In Thomas Hardy. 

Bless: The growth that he experienced from the beginning 

of this seminar to the period when you felt that he 
was able to use what he had, how did it come about? 
Hov did you assist? What can you recall of the 
process, that would also shed light on the whole 
relationship that anyone would have had with you? 

Lehman: That is almost impossible to answer. It is the 
process of what is called teaching, I don t know 
what it is. 

Hiesst How much did you see of him? 

Lehman: Sometimes every week for two or three hours, then 
not for a month, and at the time of the seminar 
twice a week for an afternoon. 

Hi ess: When he came In would he come with writing or with 

Lehman: Both, usually written down. That was always a thing 
that seemed to me well to have. The careful wrltten- 
down statement, even if it was only five sentences, 
was good to have, so that you began with that. If 
the talk didn t square with that you could say, "Yes, 
but you have said... do you want to change this or 
change that?" 

It leaves me without speech, the question that 
you raised, because it does not seem to me any 
different from what you do in English 1A, except that 
you know different things and they know different 
things. You are teaching people so far as they have 
the capacity to think straight and write precisely, 
to organize, to construct, to foresee the end before 
you put down the first sentence, no matter how 
glimmerlngly, but still to foresee it. It does 
not seem to be any different from what I ve been 
doing these weeks we have had grandchildren in the 
house from age eight on up. At lunch when they all 
Join us it seems to me to be the same thing. It s 


Lehman: talk, It s fun; It s stimulating to both us and 

I never thought I learned much except subject 
areas when I went away to a good preparatory school 
from Idaho. I thought most of the education I had 
I got at the fireside and the family dinner table, 
partly by breaking my mind against the minds of my 
brothers and sisters, partly by the checkup and 
pulldown by wiser and more experienced people who 
are known as your parents. I do not think the 
teacher relationship Is different from that. 

Bless: That makes sense; I don t think that Just everybody 
would think that, so I wanted you to come out and 
say something like that. 

Lehman: It Is a good relation that you have with students, 
Just as you had good relations with teachers when 
you were a student. You learned facts from teachers 
with whom you had no kind of relation. I do not 
mean a personal relation, but an Intellectual 
relation. I knew, personally, very little of 
Santayana when I was an undergraduate, but I had a 
very good personal relation. His mind suited my 
mind. My mind was open, Just at that time, to the 
kind of Insight and comprehension and delicate 
rendering that his class hours were. They were not 
discussion groups. They were slow, hesitant, careful 
statements by him of what he thought. 

Bless: If you enjoyed this sort of thing as much as you 
apparently did, I can see that the occupation of 
writing would be so different and solitary. 

Lehman: In a way you were Involved In writing; they were 

holding the pen or clicking the typewriter, but you 
look at something that you had heard discussed or 
had been In on the discussion of, and, as Parkinson 
says, "It s Impossible to say what part Is the 

teacher," In a poem that he sent me, 
is the student s." 

*and what part 


I hope that gives some indication of what the 
life of a member of that faculty was like in those 

Were there any other members of the English faculty 
who did close work with a good collection of graduate 


Lehman: There were great scholars, which I was not, like 
Professor Bronson, but they expected rather too 
much of the students at the outset. I thought that 
people like Professor Kurtz, who had graduate students, 
were too slack, too unlnslstent on throughness, on 
precision, too easily Impressed with vividness. I 
thought colleagues like Professor Bertrand Bronson, 
who Is a man of world-wide reputation, again with 
the greatest Justification, In three fields, as a 
Jonsonlan, as a Chaucerian, and as a scholar of the 
music of the English and Scottish ballads, expected 
his students to start where he was. They should 
come up. 1 always thought we should go back to 
where the students were. 

In those years there was no one else who directed 
so many dissertations. I never counted them, but I 
suspect that half or more of the dissertations over 
a period of fifteen or eighteen years were under my 
direction, because of factors that I have been trying 
to suggest and Imply In what I ve been saying. I 
didn t go out to make it easy for them. The fact 
that they, with few exceptions, became figures of 
distinction and some of world-wide reputation, shows 
that they had capacity. 

Rless: This seems a critical point: the fact that when you 
gave time to them you didn t feel you were taking 
it from yourself. If you did in any way, it seems 
quite fatal to any kind of relationship in teaching. 

Lehman: I never thought it was taking my time. Professor 
Parkinson wrote this winter a poem that he sent me 
as another of the little volume on Thanatos which he 
has Just published, in which he makes a point of 
this. In that volume he deals with various ways of 
seeing death. I wrote and said that there was death 
as everything except as return, that I thought, 
from my point of view in the late seventies, that 
there should be a poem on death as return, return 
to youth, to childhood, and indeed to non-entity."- 

He wrote a poem, which he delightfully inscribed 
at the end, In which he really makes this point. "He 
could never tell all with his health, with his health 
too perfect, too moving in too sweet an air. He 
shaped with his hands, always clear to the ideas that 
were not his that he conveyed with such modesty. 

*See Appendices, pp. 332-335. 


Lehman i Property had no meaning, o.ily the ideas, pure and 
free of personal limit." This was the most satis 
factory thing, looking back, I ever had said. I 
didn t think it was their idea or my idea; it was 
an idea. We made a book. 

One of the books in those years that the 
Department of French had difficulty finding a 
sponsor for (and the Preface shows clearly that 
I m not imagining this) was Haakon Chevalier s book 
on Anatole Prance (Berkeley 1929), which I worked 
through with him in two long versions. Chevalier 
later became a notable figure in squabbles about 
Communism and personal loyalties, which had nothing 
to do with the brilliant boy that he was. The 
Department of French asked me, since he wanted it, 
to direct that dissertation, and I did. This wasn t 
his idea or my idea. I knew Anatole France; he knew 
Anatole France; we talked. 

Rless: Can you take any one work and give a more detailed 
account of how you really did work with somebody? 
It s hard to do that because each person would be 
different, but what was the discipline that you 

Lehman: One of the points Is that each person was different. 
Another is that you would have to go back, precisely 
because the ideas were free. They were in the public 
domain, whether you contributed it or the student 
contributed it or a third party contributed it. When 
a report on progress was made to a seminar, one said, 
"Well, what about this?", and there it all was, for 
us to explore. 

I don t think there was any one method, except 
that, first of all, every student wrote an account 
of one work in the light of all the learned commentary 
and historical writing about it. He wrote up one 
work in which he defined the Image of the work. 
Then he was trained. From there on, he could do what 
he liked, but you kept nagging, bothering, pestering 
him. Sometimes one of the most distinguished of 
these youngsters would bring me a chapter, and I 
would read It. When he came for a conference, I 
would burst out, "You should be ashamed to ask me to 
read that." It was all done over. 


Lehman: Sometimes applause, sometimes that kind of 

thing, partly arising out of the mood of the hour; 
but there was no out and dried method. There was 
none and I don t think there ever can be. You are 
dealing in the creative life here. A really good 
dissertation, a fresh Insight, such as Josephine 
Miles had about the language of poetry, belongs with 
the kind of Insight that makes a great novel or a 
great poem. It s of that order, and you can t have 
any routine set of steps, any routine approach. 

Hi ess: I was trying to get at what It was that you brought 
to each of these people. It seems that what you 
gave them was your time. 

Lehman: That certainly was a condition of it, but time, if 
it was used.. .. 

Riess: Perhaps your ear or your concentration, some real 
belief that it was something to listen to. 

Lehman: It was the Imaginative leap into what they had in 
mind. But I had been a rebel from the beginning; 
in writing a dissertation at Harvard, I did what had 
never been done before. Nobody had written a history 
of an idea when I undertook the history, or the 
little book, on the theory of the hero in Carlyle, 
its sources and origins and its influence upon 
Carlyle himself, because he was caught by it, he 
was hooked r Carlyle *s Theory of the Hero, Duke 
University Press, 1928TI I had to persuade Harvard 
to let me do it, and I had to risk it. The kind of 
dissertation they would have preferred for me to do 
was to write about the military man in Shakespeare 
or something like that. 

Paul Jorgensen was one of my graduate students. 
He wrote his dissertation with Professor Farnham, 
but he was one of my "image of the work" men. That 
(The Elizabethan "Plain Soldier" in Shakespeare s 
Plays . U.C. Press, Berkeley, 19567~is the kind of 
"thing he does and does very thoroughly. It didn t 
interest me. There were no models for Josephine 
Miles as there was no model for what Sister Madaleva 
did; and there was no model for what I did as a 
graduate student. When I handed in that dissertation 
in 1920, I had not the least idea whether it would 
be accepted or not. 

i 34ft 

Lehman: [Added May 1968] There should be worked Into the 
manuscript a fuller answer to your question as to 
how we operated In the seminars, and how it came 
about that so many really distinguished intelligences 
moved through seminars in which they seemed to have 
little in common with one another. 

The point is this, that what I think I gave 
them was an opportunity to be themselves. I 
projected no intention ever upon any graduate 
student. My whole sense of the discipline of 
graduate study was to assist maturing minds in be 
coming more completely themselves and developing a 
discipline, a structure, and an idiom for saying 
what they wished to say because they had seen it 
there In the works they had studied. And so either 
Bertrand Evans or Philip Parley has said to me in 
these last years thirty and forty years after the 
fact one or the other said to me, "What strikes 
me most strongly Is that twenty of us have nothing 
in common except you." 

And this I regarded, fatuously perhaps, as a 
compliment. So that I think we can tuck in here 
the fact that my whole procedures were dedicated, 
with or without forethought, to the business of 
helping the student become himself and producing 
the thing that would for him be the authentically 
personal thing. 

Also, See Appendices, pp. 3j2-_>j6, fur poetic tributes by 
Thomas Parkinson and Josephine Miles, and for Mr. Lehman s 

comments . 


Riess: What was wrong with the English Department un to 
this time that good people were not coming? 

Lehman: You mean graduate students. Harvard still had 

great names. Yale had a great many names. Bronson s 
name was not yet made; none of our names were made. 
Gayley was on the decline in the early twenties, and 
Kurtz was never of great reputation. There was 
nobody who was a great scholar in the English field. 
Then, when Walter Morris Hart became vice-chairman 
of the English Department, under Barrows (so as to 
allow Gayley still the honor of being chairman) , he 
brought Durham, Whipple, Parnham, Utter, me, young 
Bronson and young Cline, but some of these came in 
the first years of his vice-presidency when Durham 
was chairman of the English Department. So you had 
some people who were publishing, not had published 
like Gayley, but were publishing or were coming 
along. A few came, graduates came, then more came, 
and wrote to friends. 

I don t know how it happens. This coast was 
not notable yet. The University was an interesting 
university, but it was not yet a world university. 
This all took place in the preliminary buildup in 
the Campbell administration, and the enlargement of 
that preliminary buildup in the administration of 
Sproul. Although it s true that a great many eminent 
names have been brought in in the half dozen years of 
the Kerr administration, that Is not demonstration yet, 
We don t know what the men of thirty who are brought 
in under the present administration are going to be 
like in fifteen years. 

That is part of what made the great Sproul 
administration, the men of thirty or so who were 
brought in in the twenties. A university can either 
import its strength at great cost, or it can bring 
great promise and grow its own strength, and that s 
what happened in that period. Young brilliant 
physicists, young brilliant chemists, young brilliant 
people in the humanities grew to national reputations. 

The Budget Committee 


Lehman: These are the things that filled the professorial 
time in that period, and the Parley story, for 
example, showed that it is not all academic in a 
narrow sense; it opens up to other things, as indeed 
the careers of students from of old have shown. The 
present chairman of the Ford Foundation, McGeorge 
Bundy, was an academic figure, but the kind of training 
he had of the kind of capacities he had led him Into 
the White House. Before him, Donald David, who 
began not as a college freshman, but as a state pre 
paratory Junior in a class of mine at Idaho, moved 
also in ways like this until he ended up, after a 
long period, as dean of the graduate school of 
business administration at Harvard and vice-chairman 
of the Ford Foundation. In some way your life is 
all these lives and activities together, and you do 
not have to write books and you don t really have to 
administer, but when the time comes and someone says, 
"Will you undertake this?", you do. If you succeed 
you get another assignment. If you don t succeed you 
are allowed to drop back into the pool. 

Before Dramatic Art was through, I was drawn into 
the Budget Committee. 

Rless: The Budget Committee assignment started in 1942, and 
Dramatic Arts was 1940-44, more or less. 

Lehman: I was asked by the Committee on Committees if I 

would be a member of the Budget Committee. I thought 
It over and understood that it would be an exigent 
assignment. By now I had been around the University 
in a good many ways committee-man, teacher, fiction- 
writer, working with graduate students and I thought 
it would be Interesting. I don t think I did It for 
what might be called a selfish motive, but I don t 
think selfish motives were absent. So I went in. 

Roy Clausen was chairman. He was a professor 
of genetics; his field was [genetics anyway] the fruit 
fly. There were some very able men on the committee. 
There was a stimulating fellow from engineering, 
Llwllyn Boeltar, who later moved from Berkeley to UCLA 
and organized the Engineering School at UCLA. 
Eastman in chemistry was on the committee, and a very 
able man from economics also, Stuart Daggett. These 
fellows are dead now; they were younger than I. When 


Lehman: I went into the Budget Committee, there was a con 
centration of ability in the five members that I ve 
rarely seen equalled when five men sat down together. 

There was a curious thing, however: My idea 
or expectation in entering was that there would be 
an immense amount of record of what had been done 
for a long time, so that one could orient oneself 
by reviewing lightly a tradition and move ahead on 
it. There were no records. We had a room In the 
top of the Administration Building, what is now 
Sproul Hall. There were not even figures that we 
needed. The chairman would go get them from other 
parts of the organization of the University. I 
found it dismaying, but, in fact, Clausen had one 
large folio of the recommendations for promotions, 
carbons of the recommendations since he had been 
chairman, and carbons of things for the last year 
recommendations made to the president or the 

There was, in addition to the four men with 
whom I worked, a marvelous secretary. Her name was 
Nora Moylan. She was absolutely devoted to the 
enterprise of the Budget Committee. She had vision; 
she understood its potential influence. Her real Job, 
job the University had appointed her to, was secretary 
of the Department of Astronomy, but when, before 
Clausen became chairman, a professor of astronomy 
was chairman of the Budget Committee, he asked her, 
because her departmental load was light, to do his 
typing for him. Step by step, she took on more and 

At the very beginning of my chairmanship of the 
Budget Committee we took her away from astronomy, 
made her full-time secretary of the Budget Committee, 
where she developed records, that is, she went back 
and got them. There is, as a consequence, a very 
large room full of records of every sort, with all 
the signed briefs, arguments, recommendations ever 
made to any other committee, ever made to the admin 
istration or to the Regents. Before too long, Nora 
Moylan had to have an assistant and had to be upgraded 
as a member of the University civil service. 

We had important, difficult things to do as the 
war came on. After Pearl Harbor, for Instance, the 


Lehman: prospect was for a much reduced budget, since the 

student body would have shrunk. The Legislature was 
cutting down. The first recommendation made to the 
President by his Immediate advisors, not his academic 
advisors but his administrative advisors, was to let 
a certain number of non-tenure people fall out of 
the faculty. This would have met the fiscal situa 
tion. He called the Budget Committee in one day 
and said this recommendation had been made to him. 

Rless: By administrative advisors do you mean specifically 
not people like Deutsoh and Hart? 

Lehman: Hart wasn t an administrative advisor; he was retired 
by this time. They were in the administration. The 
Senate committees are the academic advisors. The 
people the President chooses as deans and provosts 
are his administrative advisors. 

Rless: You were implying that the business office was 
responsible for this recommendation? 

Lehman: It could well have been. There was a very gifted 
man named Olaf Lundberg, head of the controller s 
office, who may have been in on this. How do you 
save this much money when this is all you can get 
from the Legislature? 

In any case, this was the first sharp issue 
and I was still only a member of the Budget Committee, 
not its chairman. The issue was how to save the 
money. The recommendation to President Sproul, as 
he announced it to us, was to let twenty to forty 
assistant professors and instructors go. That seemed 
to all of us I ve forgotten who made the first 
statement as the five of us sat there with the 
President almost instantly, a foolish way to proceed 
for several reasons. One was that if they were allowed 
to go, that is, if they were dropped, they would not 
feel kindly toward the University after the war if 
the University then needed them. The second reason 
was that they had been chosen carefully. They were 
men who were expected to develop their promise, and 
when you have gone to all that trouble in selection, 
you do not make a wholesale house cleaning. There 
were many reasons. 

The President said, "Well, I don t see any other 
way of doing it." Afterwards, he said publicly that 


Lehman: he had never made the proposal, but there were five 
men to whom he made it nonetheless. This was, I 
suppose, a political, a public relations statement. 

The Budget Committee made its recommendation, 
and it stands in the minutes of the Budget Committee. 
It was three or four-fold. It had to do with ways 
of letting these men go on leave for wartime services 
whether in the armed forces or elsewhere. It 
recommended ways of developing great flexibility in 
every department staff so that a man as distinguished 
as Gilbert Lewis, for Instance, would go down and 
teach freshman chemistry. He had not done it for 
twenty years. The idea was to use men with flexi 
bility because there would not be so many graduate 

One way or another, we worked this out so that 
no one was dropped, so that all these people were 
kept on leave. The budget situation was exactly 
balanced. The University had, when the war was over 
and suddenly it needed to Increase the faculty, not 
Just bring it back to where it was, its own reserve 
fpr a buffer in that transitional time, which was 
the time of my chairmanship of the Budget Committee 
and a time of grueling hard work. 

All of a sudden we had the G.I. Bill men by 
the thousand. Every campus in the country was in the 
same situation, but we were better off than most for 
two things had happened. One, we had let nobody go 
so everybody felt good-will toward his own chairman 
and his own administrative officers at UC Berkeley. 
Secondly, in the last year of the war, we prepared 
the sequence of steps for Increasing the salary scale, 
so that once the war was over we were in a strong 
competitive position through the first two or two and 
one-half years which covered three years of additions 
to the faculty. We were in a good position for 
inviting men from elsewhere without breaking, as so 
many universities had to do, their schedule, their 
salary scale steps. These are two of the four or five 
things that seem to me to have been really important 
contributions in a record of this sort. 

Bless: They seem essential to the running of the University. 
I m always amazed to hear about the Budget Committee 
five men, one secretary, and such an enormous Job. 

Lehman: I cannot tell now, from what I read in the Bulletin 
and what I hear, Just what the Budget Committee does 
or how much influence it has. But in the time I am 
speaking of, these five men, with the written word 
and as long as I was chairman, I always myself wrote 
every memorandum, every recommendation, so that there 
would be one prose and one prose only to which the 
top administrator would have to get used made these 
recommendations* At the end of a year, we had a 
total of 98 1/2, 99, and one year, 100 percent agree 
ment in the administration with the recommendations. 

Bless: What percentage of agreement was there between the 
Budget Committee and recommendations coming from 
the departments? 

Lehman: Some departments got everything they recommended. 
What they recommended was reviewed very carefully, 
but Birge, for instance, in physics, always came out 
with everything he recommended because he was so 
careful, he was so right, he consulted so thoroughly 
before he made his recommendations. There were 
departments that were slashed in their recommendations, 
Others were told that they better ask for more and 
get busy making some appointments. So that committee- 
department relationships were very different. No 
doubt sometimes the president, before the budgets 
were in, talked with chairmen of departments. Birge 
may well have discussed with him some very large 
things, asking if he would be for it if the Budget 
Committee would recommend it. 

My point is that I don t know whether the 
Budget Committee, as a committee of the Academic 
Senate, has as much influence now as it had then and 
had had for a long time. It had been the most Impor 
tant committee in the time of Campbell, 1923 or 192*4- 
to 1930. The vice-president, Walter Morris Hart, 
always sat with the Budget Committee so that he knew 
what was in the mind of the Budget Committee when he 
talked to Campbell, and the Committee could always 
hear from him what the president was thinking. That 
is all very vague and general, but I don t know how 
it can be anything else. 

Now, any historian would have access, since the 
days of Nora Moylan and the full record, to the 
memoranda. They are there on file year by year. The 

Lehman: volumes of recommendations for promotion and policy 
for every year stand side by side on the shelves. 

Rless: Do you think that President Sproul would have been 

more likely than President Kerr to accept recommenda 
tions wholly? 

Lehman: Clark Kerr was my Junior on the staff. I knew him 

pretty well but I didn t know him as an administrator, 
I was out of the Budget Committee and out of all 
administrative centers by the time he was head of 
his little group and long before he was chancellor, 
so I do not know. 

Sproul was a very wise man. He was cagey and 
perhaps a little the political operator but perhaps 
he had to be. Perhaps that was one of the ways in 
which he got the support for the University that he 
did. But he was open to all kinds of creative Ideas. 
I have great regard for him at the same time that I 
was often exasperated by him, as, no doubt, he was 
often exasperated by me. 

I remember when we were starting Dramatic Art. 
In the second year we had the little performance of 
Dido and Aeneas, and It seemed to me absolute 
perfection. It had been written by a composer who 
Intended It for gifted amateurs; though they had 
happened never to perform It, that was how It had 
been written way back In the seventeenth century. 
That was what was being done here. Gifted amateurs 
were giving this golden performance. It was so good 
the second night that when I went home from the per 
formance (I had been to several rehearsals and two 
performances), I called Sproul up at his house and 
said, "I don t care what your day is like. You ve 
got to come tomorrow afternoon." That was to see 
and hear the matinee performance. 

He said, "I ve got work to do." 

And I said, "This is part of it, I want you to 
see what can be done with this kind of thing." 

He had seen none of the things we had done the 
year before. He came and was impressed and awed and 
delighted. He came and sat with me. He had to leave 
the minute it was over; he couldn t wait for the 


Lehman: applause, but one physical gesture and one word were 

enough to show that he approved. After that, Dramatic 
Art could have anything that he could manipulate a 
budget for, providing that he could get a recommenda 
tion through the Budget Committee. Well, of course, 
I could always get that [laughter]. This Is an 
Illustration from way back of how extraordinary he 
was. He was an amazing man. 

Hless: It Is quite remarkable to think that he was running 
things and In touch with so much, not only here but 
at UCLA and many other places as well. 

Lehman: The University had not yet taken on such a multiple 
form. The San Francisco campus had not yet evolved 
to what It now Is. Davis was still only a limited 
campus. The astronomy people here and at Mt. Hamilton 
were under the Budget Committee and under the Berkeley 
campus, so was Davis and so was San Francisco. We 
did those all through that one Budget Committee. 

Rless: Did you work mostly with written recommendations? 
How much did you see of the chairmen? 

Lehman: We had almost every chairman In conference. For the 
deans of the Medical School and for the people from 
Davis, we had long conferences, two or three after 
noons a year, when the budget came In and when the 
promotions, advancements or appointments were in 
question. I often went to see the man who made the 
recommendation when I was chairman and I m sure that 
Clausen did before. The Faculty Club was good for 
that for all the people on the Berkeley campus, but 
you sometimes had to go to San Francisco. The dean 
there was very busy, you had to be in town anyway, 
so you went out for half an hour and got a matter 
clear. When Smith was Dean of the Medical School, 
he came and sat with us. 

Riess: Is this power of the Budget Committee unique to the 
University of California? 

Lehman: In my time presidents of faculties or chairmen of 
faculties used to come from several of the great 
state universities to ask how we operated it. It had 
grown up in the aftermath of the revolution that 
headed the University s course after Benjamin Ide 
Wheeler was removed. It worked very well. The 


Lehman: University has now become too complex, and the 

Budget Committees are perhaps only personnel com 
mittees, reviewing recommendations, I don t know. 
It may be that they make large policy decisions for 
the chancellors on the several campuses. The 
University s administrative structure Is now fan 
tastically complex. In my time people would come to 
you and complain, "How do you get to see the President? 
He s too busy to see me." A chairman of a department 
would say he had asked for an appointment over a 
month before. Now, of course, they say, "How do you 
get to see the President? There are ten men between 
me and him." His vice-president, his chancellor, 
his associate chancellor, his dean, etc., stand In 
the way, so that you can t get to see the President. 
Of course, everybody wants to see the big guy. 

Rless: In some ways It seems that It Isn t fair to the 

members of the committee to give them so much power. 
This power and these problems are what you give the 
President and It s his to live with. 

Lehman: The President ought to and does have the power; he 
does not have to take the committee s advice. On 
the other hand, to keep the faculty well behind him, 
he cannot ignore nor scorn the committees. In those 
days he couldn t even have neglected their advice 
with Impunity, because one would have got up in the 
Senate and said, "These were the recommendations, and 
this is the action that followed." 

Riess: Recommendation and action are reported to the Senate, 
or only in special cases? 

Lehman: If, on important matters, the President did not take 
the advice, you would say he didn t take it and 
point out what he did instead. The President has to 
have the faculty behind him; he has to have the 
Regents with him; and he has to have the state and 
Legislature behind him. It takes brains to do all 
that, and Sproul did it admirably. 

Riess: How are committee assignments made? 

Lehman: The Committee on Committees is elected, or was elected 
in those days, by the Senate. It was nominated by 
groups of the faculty and elected by the Senate. Then 
they elected their own chairman, and their recommendations 

Lehman: of committee personnel were never heard questioned. 

They recommended, and the Senate, In effect, accepted 
committee assignments. Sometimes, on the fringe of 
the faculty, people who are naturally the dissidents 
in temperament would say, "Look at so-and-so. He s 
been in there for five years." Or, "After five 
years in there he s been made head of this." Some 
times one was asked by the Committee on Committees 
to undertake a special Job. I was asked to go onto 
University Welfare by the Committee on Committees 
specifically to develop the retirement scale so that 
it would be consistent with general practice in the 
country at large, not only on but off of faculties, 
and consistent with our wage scale. Some people were 
then retiring with $1,200 per year. 

Riess: This was after the Budget Committee? 

Lehman: Yes. My intention on the Budget Committee as chair 
man when I said, "I want to do something about the 
salary scale" and those were the very words I used 
as we sat down at that meeting was to Include the 
retirement scale. The rest of the committee was of 
the unanimous opinion that we would stand a better 
chance, if we left retirement out, to get the whole 
thing we were recommending (which we did). I did 
not agree with that; I thought we would get it all. 
But we had never made In my time a recommendation 
from the Budget Committee with a minority report. 
We had always made a unanimous recommendation. They 
had often given up on this or that point when I had 
been opposed, and now I gave up. Finally, University 
Welfare was the place where I went in to do this Job. 

1 went Into the Educational Policy Committee In 
19^8 because of the question, "How big can a campus 
be?" There were those people who held that it was 
already too big and should be reduced to 14,000, and 
there were those who felt the sky was the limit. 

Riess: This was Just In considering the Berkeley campus? 

Lehman: Yes. That committee was set up as a committee of 

the Berkeley Senate. I believe we said that 23,500 
to 2^,000 was operable and, with a certain conception 
of what a university was, Ideal. 

Riess: How could you have come to that conclusion? 

Lehman: There Is a memorandum also In the files that was 
the result of many weeks of discussion by that 
committee of nine people, and I think it was very 
good. Deutsch took it apart. He was against it, 
and in the meeting of the President s Advisory 
Committee he tore into it. He and I were ^ood 
friends, but he really lashed into it. For a while 
I thought he would prevail, but he didn t. In his 
opposition he did not foresee the number of students; 
he wanted to go back to 18,000 and build another 
campus. They are now building three other campuses. 
The idea roughly was to reduce the lower division to 
a model lower division, keep the normal upper divi 
sion, and enlarge the graduate school. 

Those were the three projects. The reason for 
going on from the Budget to University Welfare was 
to get the retirement recommendation outlined. Two 
years after, in Educational Policy, the purpose was 
to get the Image of campus size and structures. 

Hless: Were there other major things going on during the 
Budget Committee years? 

Lehman: Picking the best people, getting young faculty of 
great promise, was a great problem after the war. 
The competition was very keen and there weren t very 
many people available. The number trained during 
the Depression had been small. Some had been lost 
In the war. All schools were enlarged because of 
the G.I. Bill. Everybody was trying to get good 
people, so we had to develop and encourage the 
chairmen, some of whom were very good for Just running 
things but not for building them up. We had to do a 
lot of hard work to get departments to look over 
sixty or eighty possible people in order to get one 
or sometimes two. 

There had been a tendency In a great number of 
adequate departments that were not distinguished Just 
to get somebody who was good; somebody knew him and 
that was it. To encourage the wide review, I remember 
In English, where I was chairman at the same time as 
my participation on the Budget Committee, we had one 
year 160 dossiers and in the end got only two people 
after going through all of that hard, hard work. 
This was In addition to making all the other appoint 
ments, filling all the slots because we had to have 


Lehman t 



Lehman : 

teachers for the courses, especially for the multiple 
section courses with temporary appointees. The next 
year we might get three more people, and so on. 

That was done by a committee within the English 

Yes, we had an advisory committee and a graduate 
committee, and I would assign different people 
different sets of folios. But the chairman went 
through all of them. By that time I could do It In 
my sleep, after the Budget Committee years. 

How were the salary scales at that point? 
you had kept them up. 

You said 

They were not very good when the war started. There 
were a great many people who hadn t got back their 
Depression out of three hundred dollars, and the 
professors salary scale began at $4200. After we 
got through fixing a better scale, It Is now established 
by these ten and six and five per cent Increments that 
come up every year or two. That has been going on 
for twenty years. We moved It up sufficiently right 
away, the first year after the war, with an additional 
move up the second year. 

It was Earl Warren s vision and generosity of 
vision even more than Sproul s (as a matter of fact 
Sproul, In money matters, is very Scotch, and he 
always thought that as long as a few salaries In the 
University were big enough, all the rest were good), 
that had effect. Actually It was Warren who was 
receptive to and Influential with the Legislature In 
regard to these new scales. Earl Warren Is a remark 
able man. 

Did you have contact with him as a Regent or with 
the Regents in general through this period? 

No, we didn t have any contact with the Regents 
directly. Though of ten queries came back, and I 
happened to know four or five of them personally, 
we didn t have contact with the Regents directly 
until the time of the oath, when I was chairman of 
the President s Advisory Committee elected by the 

Lehman: In between this and the Educational Policy report 
I had a year or two off from this kind of thing. All 
these years I was teaching and for five years admin 
istering the English Department. Then I had a year 
off, and after that I went on to be chairman of the 
Committee on Building Programs and Building Needs. 
By that time I was Just plain bored with administra 
tion. This was the biggest project of all perhaps, 
but I didn t have any Interest In It and after one 
year I asked to be relieved. 

I was astounded to be told two weeks after I had 
asked to be relieved from committee duty that the 
Committee on Committees was nominating me to be chair 
man of the Advisory Committee of the Senate. I was 
told that was not a post anyone could say no to, so 
I was mixed up In the oath though I had very different 
things in mind for that committee s program. 

The University s Reputation Grows 

Riess: I suppose there were some smaller departments in 

those days with chairmen who never involved themselves 
in the competition. 

Lehman: That s true. Many departments were small. Many 

departments that now have eight and ten then had only 
two or three geography and paleontology for example. 

Bless: But If they asked somebody, the person was likely to 
come at a shot by this time weren t they, not 
necessarily because of the reputation of the depart 
ment but because of the reputation of the University? 

Lehman: That helped, and of course the climate did too, 
there s no doubt about that. [Laughter] 

People were eager to come, and the number of 
people who got to know what California was like 
during the war was a million and a half. People who 
were out here for three or six months or one to four 
years thought, "I don t know what I m going to do, 
but I m coming back here." One night one of my 
colleagues and I were going to San Francisco, driving 


Lehman: over, and we picked up a soldier or sailor. I asked 
him what he was going to do after the war, and he 
replied, "Coming back to San Francisco. I don t 
know what I ll do, but here s where I m going to do 

Dozens of academic men were out here, and that 
helped also. 

Riess: At what point would you say the University had the 
reputation to attract anyone they wanted to have? 
Though I guess money was always critical in getting 
good people? 

Lehman: Actually in some fields money could always be gotten, 
because in those days you were talking about top 
salaries of $12,000 at most, and very high salaries 
of $8,000, and you could always find the money for 
a few of those scattered around in the budget. If 
you did nothing else you could cut down the allowance 
for office stationery for six departments and you d 
have it. The difference between getting a $4,000 
man and an $8,000 man was only $4,000. 

But your basic question is, when? 

In some fields, early, you could get the best. 
Gilbert Lewis could get the best for chemistry, 
because Gilbert Lewis was the best. Men would come 
where he was. 

Then gradually Raymond Birge working in physics 
brought about a situation in which anyone would come. 
And Indeed, I understood, people asked to come in 

In certain fields it was slow. That is, it came 
later. But you always had certain allies in all of 
these things, particularly in the humanities. You 
had allies in the climate, and in the psychological 
and imaginative climate that is generally gathered 
under the words Bay Area, or San Francisco, or 
Golden Gate, so that writers, if they weren t academic 
people, came here anyway. If they were academic 
people, they had a growing university behind them, or 
under them. We asked, in the humanities, some very 
distinguished people, and they had their roots down, 
or other commitments, and couldn t come, but we asked 


Lehman: some very distinguished ones who did. 

But there was a thing that went parallel with 
this, Mrs. Rless, and It would be a great mistake 
not to have It of record from perhaps four or five 
people. (I mentioned this earlier In discussing 
appointing a Librarian.) There grew up In the 
University and again I don t know who started it, 
though I oan remember a number of early times hearing 
It In appointment committees the phrase, "the young 
man of greatest promise." Not "the man of greatest 
distinction." And I can remember myself once in 
Budget Committee saying, "I wish more subcommittees 
of the Budget Committee, making appointments, would 
go out and get us young men of great promise, on the 
theory that we don t buy distinction; we make it, 
and grow it." 

And this came to pass, too, you know, so that 
people had been picked by Walter Morris Hart, for 
instance, James Cline, B.H. Bronson.... Walter Hart 
had brought Robert P. Utter, Wlllard Parnham and 
others in two years. We hadn t published anything; 
they d Just read our dissertations. So that as the 
University grew older and we grew older, we got a 
certain Who s Who business you know. But it wasn t 
always the one thing; there was more and more con 
fidence that you could and I think this developed 
in the Budget Committee in my time that you could 
appoint now and then a very distinguished man whose 
achievement was already definite. But you should 
appoint three or four young men and women, and give 
them an opportunity to show, to develop their promise. 
If they don t, kindly but firmly separate them from 
the staff. 

It had its bad side, because it made for a 
certain nervousness as against the old days when 
anybody who came as assistant professor or instructor 
took it for granted that if he only kept out of the 
police courts he could stay on until he died. 
[Laughter] Nonetheless, it s as it was, and people 
like Josephine Miles, against the odds, you see, In 
that crippled condition, became an International 
reputation In fifteen or twenty years. Bronson became 
an International reputation. You could go down the 
list and find quite a few such people. So there were 
all kinds of things going on together and it s too 


Lehman: bad to simplify It Into one pattern. 

Rless: And they might be hired because of the dissertation, 
not a personal Interview? 

Lehman: Oh, personal Interviews too. I think that Walter 

Hart, If he went East, when he was vice-president or 
when he was chairman of the department, or even 
earlier than that when he was Just Dean of the Summer 
Sessions acting for the president, would Interview 
people, and he was a very good Judge, I think, In 
general, although he made one or two bloopers. But 
then, who doesn t? 

In any case, the personal Interview now some 
times, they read the dissertation. I, and I think 
now Henry Nash Smith, Wlllard Parnham, Mark Sohorer, 
all these men who ve succeeded me In the chairman 
ship, really look at dissertations, or mostly they 
do. In my time we read every one of them; we read 
sixty or seventy and then Interviewed maybe ten or 
twelve, then picked three or four. I am of the 
opinion that If you don t read the dissertation you 
can go astray very easily; to see the mind brought 
to bear upon a subject carefully limited, and then 
see how It can dig Into It and what It can erect 
upon the delimited bases, Is Indispensable. If 
that s good it won t matter if that man never 
publishes a thing because you know how his mind 
works and you can trust him later on committees 
developing policy or committees doing the thing that 
is the condition of developing policy namely, 
acquiring personnel. 

Bless: But he won t be staying around if he doesn t publish 

Lehman: Well, that isn t entirely true. James Cline has 

published nothing, one of the most distinguished men 
in the University he published a few little essays 
at one time. There would be exceptions to that always. 
I know I hear from a great many nervous young men who 
come and see me: "publish or perish," they say It is. 
But this wasn t true, we had people who didn t publish 
and were stimulating, but weren t valuable really 
in the long run to the University. I could name one 
but won t. We had people like Cline who didn t really 
publish and were enormously valuable vice-chairman 


Lehman: of the Academic Senate, Dean of the Graduate Division, 
and so on. 

I don t know.. .they have all these rewards for 
the teacher as teacher, they have whole new ladders 
where the teacher who doesn t publish but who Is 
demonstrably a good teacher goes up In salary, but 
he doesn t have the professorial title. Well, who 
cares about the title? I should think there would 
be few. 

But by and large I ve observed It s only the 
people who from time to time are willing to talk to 
their peers In a larger world than the local 
academic world who ve got the qualities that Justify 
a place on a great faculty. Now a man may be other 
wise busy or preoccupied or even otherwise dreamy 
and not get around to do this more than once in a 
while, like Durham, but when he does he shakes the 
International house, though it s only an eighteen- 
page essay. Well, you know what s going on in his 
courses if this is what s going on In his mind, and 
the way it goes on. 

The President s Advisory Committee 

Hiess: We were discussing events In terms of your committee 
or administrative connections. What was the Advisory 
Committee s Job? 

Lehman: The President had asked a group of faculty members 
to become occasional counsel to him. (This was as 
much as two or three years before the oath. ) The 
chairmen of Important University committees sat with 
certain top administrative officers in counsel once 
every month or two all morning, sometimes through 
lunch and after lunch. It depended on how his 
schedule went whether it began early or late. 

That council really did not get a great deal 
done. The object of setting it up was to have the 
faculty feel that they were in counsel and were 
advising. There was some dissatisfaction with it 
and after a while, either at Sproul s suggestion or 


Lehman: the suggestion of someone In the Senate as It was 

then constituted) the President s Advisory Committee 
was set up. I, myself, had great doubts about the 
wisdom of this. I oould see that it might reassure 
some, but on the whole I didn t think it would get 
anything done in the University as I knew the 
University from having been chairman successively 
of most of the Important committees. I scoffed a 
little bit about it to those who were pleased that 
It had been accepted by the administration as a 
procedure and backed by the Senate. 

The Committee on Committees undertook to staff 
this Advisory Committee to the President. I was 
walking across the campus and said to Professor 
Hicks of History, "I hear you re working out in the 
Committee on Committees the personnel of the committee 
to advise the President." 

He said, "Yes, and you re it." [Laughter] I 
had not been consulted, but I oould see the logic 
of the choice. I would bring late knowledge of the 
Budget Committee and the other committees procedures 
t?o bear. 

The enterprise went on, perhaps a little gained 
here, a little lost there, mostly small gains of 
information in the President s mind as to what the 
faculty were thinking about. 

Bless i Why did they make it into a formal committee though? 
Could not the same results have been achieved on an 
informal basis? 

Lehman * He could at any time have called up any of the 

people, but the Senate felt he didn t. They felt 
that for general policy he was likely to ask the 
Budget Committee or the Committee on University 
Welfare or on Educational Policy for a recommenda 
tion or an opinion on a proposal. They, the Senate, 
wanted something that was more automatic and more 
central. The President, with the advice of the 
Advisory Committee, would consult still further 
with Budget, Library, or whatever. 

Rless: Did the Senate expect to communicate with the 
President through this committee? 


Lehman: I think so. They would ezpeot academic policy 

passed by the Senate to be pressed by the Advisory 
Committee. There was nothing much going on. The 
President told me after some years that he was 
rather disappointed In what was done there. How 
muoh that was a way of protecting himself from not 
using It as much as he should have, and how much 
that was because when I was chairman I didn t think 
much of It, I can t be certain. 


Lehman: [Added May 1968] I think I want to let stand what 
ever I ve said about the oath. But I would like to 
preface all that is said with a somewhat clearer 
statement of how I found myself in the oath situation. 
I had been, as the record shows, from the twenties, 
when I went on to the Library Committee, steadily in 
posts of advisory responsibility and confidence. 
And I would not have been in one after another if 
the confidence hadn t been granted both by the 
Senate and by the President. 

After I finished the work on the Budget Com 
mittee, as I have said, I thought I was done. Then 
I found that I had to go to University Welfare to 
work out a brief on the retirement situation. And 
then I was asked to take on for a year the chairman 
ship of the Committee on Educational Policy, and 
developed the program, in a brief, for the size of 
the University, setting it at something around 
23*750. This was a student body of a size the 
President was doubtful about and Deutsch was violently 
opposed to. But it has prevailed, with slight 

This is the situation, then. When I retired 
from this assignment, I thought I was done. I 
wanted to go back to teaching and a little writing. 
I still had a decade or more of academic activity. 

I was crossing the campus one evening when I 
met John Hicks, professor of history, and I said to 
him casually, "I hear you re having to appoint an 
Advisory Committee." 

"Not having to, we have. And you re chairman." 
I said, "I have not been consulted about this." 

He said, "Oh, you don t need to be consulted 
about it. You re it." And we laughed and went on. 

Now, my conception of the Advisory Committee was, 
of course, to advise the President, that we would move 


Lehman In and back all further salary adjustments, all 
moves toward enlargement of the student body so 
that the University could take oare of the obviously 
Increasing number of applicants for university 
education and such matters. But then all of a 
sudden, here s the oath controversy. 

At this point almost casually In the job, you 
see, and for a terminal year of advisory function 
to the administration on behalf of the Senate 
almost casually In that Job, I was confronted with 
a situation I didn t even know had arisen because 
I hadn t read about It In the papers. One of the 
men In the President s office called up and said 
that the Advisory Committee was going to represent 
the Senate In connection with this oath business. 
I did not at the time foresee, and I don t think 
Hlldebrand did, how serious the whole matter would 
become, or that It would become serious at all. 

A couple of days before the Regents meeting In 
which the whole thing was to be gone over again 
(this Is the one In San Francisco following Santa 
Barbara), Joel Hlldebrand, who I think was still 
chairman of the Advisory Committee, called me and 
said that he had asked for a conference with the 
President. It was at that conference that the 
President did not tell us I don t recall whether 
he ezpllolty denied It or not In any case he did 
not tell us that he himself had proposed the oath at 
the end of the Santa Barbara meeting. 

So we did not know that, and were allowed to 
Infer, If we weren t explicitly told and I don t 
pretend to remember whichwe did not know when we 
went into the Regents meeting that Neylan would 
present the materials that he did, reading from the 
minutes of the meeting verbatlmly taken down, show- 
Ing that the President was responsible. Quite 
apart from any other lack of preparation, we were 
misprepared for this. And that meeting came to 
nothing, as Gardner has from the minutes made clear, 
and as I suggested here. 

At the end of that meeting I got Hlldebrand in 
a side room and said to him, "There s only one thing 
for us to do and that is to persuade the President 
to go and make a full statement to the full Senate 


Lehman: and ask its cooperation and some responsible struc 
ture In relation to the whole matter." Of that 
nothing came, It was postponed. The President did 
ultimately appear before the Senate. But wisely, 
I think, as things turned out, he let time elapse. 

In the Interval, then, Key Ian worked with me. 
The fact that he worked with me I assert from my 
point of view. What his view of our operation to 
gether was I can t tell for sure, but I take it he 
thought he was convincing me because he did say to 
the press, "Why didn t they let Lehman come back and 
finish up 2" 

Now, the interview with Neylan Is in here 
(manuscript following), and it all had to do with 
building Lawrence up and pulling Sproul down and 
getting a faculty statement of lack of confidence 
in the President.* My view was then, and continued 
to be, and is today, that this would have been the 
most ill-advised of steps, that we would have precip 
itated something beyond the oath. Very likely we 
should have precipitated something like the Clark 
Kerr situation which would have been perhaps more 
dangerous at that time than the other was later. In 
any case, I felt I was not In congenial water, that 
the important thing was to keep the University moving, 
and to go to court. 

Now the ground for going to court was a sentence 
or two, a passage in the Enabling Act, which I went 
through. I remember that on the day on which I 
found those passages which I thought would give us 
legal ground for being rid of the oath, two members 
of the Senate, each not knowing that the other had 
done It, brought me the same passage, and said that 
this was what should be presented to the Senate. 
Well, what was presented to the Senate is clear in 
the Senate s minutes. 

Then a further thing i meanwhile, now as chair 
man, I suggested to the Advisory Committee that we 
withdraw from this responsibility and tell the 
chairman of the Senate that we proposed to do so and 
suggest that they appoint a committee specifically 
to act on this matter and with authority to act, 
which we had not in our own view. We couldn t advise 
the President in this matter, for obvious reasons, 

*See p. 262. 


Lehman: since he hadn t taken us Into his confidence. We 
couldn t advise the Regents, that s obvious. The 
best thing to do is to find a man in whom the Senate 
had great confidence and who had great technical 
preparation, because we were looking to a possible 
court test, informal without Senate backing, yet. 

And so Malcolm Davisson was chosen. And what 
I did not catch Gardner as saying was that Davisson 
broke down under the strain of it after he had the 
interview with the governor, and so on, you see. 
The governor couldn t handle the situation, though 
he came down as president of the Board, and presided 
and voted. He couldn t get a majority. So the 
oath could not be withdrawn. 

It was now a question of getting backing. (The 
whole further matter of Tolman and the conferences 
is in here, [manuscript following]) It would cost 
a great deal of money to go to court Just to present 
the document, you know. So I scouted around and I 
thought of Mrs. Lehman, then Mrs. Durham, asked for 
her support, got it generously, some other fairly 
large donations were made, and it moved toward the 
solution that was finally attained. Now then, have 
I left out essential things to your inquiries? 

Hiess: All of a sudden it became so clear to me that why 
ever did anyone think that the Advisory Committee 
should be advising the Regents anyway? It was really 
the Advisory Committee to the President. 

Lehman: We shouldn t have been advising the Regents, but we 
found ourselves in the position of dickering with 
the Regents because of Neylan s taking over the 
chairmanship he wasn t the chairman of the Regents. 
He took over that meeting from the vice-chairman, 
whoever that was, I ve forgotten his name now, real 
estate man in the south. He manipulated it so that 
he seemed to be dealing with representatives. Now 
I don t think this was pure chicane on his part. I 
think that he was an attorney and used to moving 
through whatever opening the opposition presented. 
And his object was otherwise. 

Riess: As you have made clear. Then the other thing is 

that it seems that there were enough forces at work, 
both idealistic and power-seeking, that no matter what, 


Riess: It would have been Impossible to bring this to a 
conclusion, that five or ten or 50 well-meaning 
men would never have been enough to stop whatever 
was going here. 

Lehman: As you say, there was a power struggle going on 

behind a facade that had to do with academic freedom, 
civil rights, and such matters. And the power 
figures were willing to use the forces in the facade 
activity for their own purposes. 

Then, I withdrew from the Advisory Committee, 
I resigned. I saw perfectly clearly what was going 
on and made that simple statement here in the record. 
I Just knew I was not the man to do it, either in 
temperament or in authorization, and that probably 
I was further hampered by having already been operated 
upon by Mr. Neylan, and I ought therefore to get out. 
I could then say to my successor, "Now, look, this 
is the thing that he s after and this is what you 
must be on your guard against from the beginning." 

Sproul was saved and I believe myself the 
University was benefited by the fact that he was 
not thrown out on that ground. And he himself in a 
special meeting, given at one of the dormitories they 
had at Dwight Way, referred to these matters. 

This is all I have to say here, I think, unless 
something isn t clear. 

Riess: Fine. But I m sure that there s going to have to be 
another book on the loyalty oath some day. 

Lehman: Oh, I don t think that there s any doubt of that! 


Regent John Francis Neylan and the Oath s Proposal 

Lehman: [Original interview] The Advisory Committee went 

along for a little while, and then, suddenly, here was 
the oath. The first thing I knew about the oath, 
since I didn t take a morning paper, was when someone 
on the campus told me what had been done at the 
Regents meeting. The next thing I knew about it was 
three or four hours later when a telephone call to 
me at my house in the evening from a member of the 
President s personal staff said, "About the oath, 
there is going to be another meeting of the Regents 
on the matter here in San Francisco , and I think" 
(he didn t say "we think" or "the President thinks") 
"they are going to try to hang the proposal of the 
oath on Mr. Sproul." 

I did not then know what presently emerged, that 
Neylan was trying to get rid of the President, trying 
to remove him from the presidency. That was fairly 
clear as soon as we had the meeting with the Regents 
at which the Advisory Committees of both the Northern 
and Southern sections were present. Joel Hlldebrand, 
Harry Walker from Davis, and I were the three members 
from Berkeley who met with the Regents. It was clear 
after five minutes that the chairman of the Board of 
Regents was not really presiding, and that Neylan 
was presiding, Neylan was out to convince the 
President s Advisory Committee that they should work 
up ant 1 -Sproul sentiment. Sproul had, at the end of 
a meeting at Santa Barbara, said, "There s one more 
thing, gentlemen," and then he had proposed the oath. 
Neylan said, I think with complete truth, that he had 
earlier been opposed to the oath, but if the President 
wanted it, he voted for it. That meeting, which 
lasted for many hours with the press and other reporters 
hanging around all the doors, was nothing but a battle 
on the part of Neylan to remove Sproul from the 

Prom way back, Sproul had a commitment to him 
self to last until retirement. A little later, in a 
testimonial dinner to him by the faculty, or by some 
members of the faculty, he said that very few presi 
dents had lasted as long as he had up to that moment, 
and that this was also one of the things that showed 
that a president knew his stuff, the fact that he 


Lehman: could weather crises. The first Regents meeting was 
one of the most sickening experiences of my life. 
Sproul could not speak out because he was riding out 
the storm. He was silent, the record will show, 
except for one or two small remarks. Ancient 
animosities, future hopes, personal bitternesses, 
all kinds of factors were at work. 

I was very quiet at the Regents meeting after 
I discovered what was going on. After I was aware 
of what was going on, I said very little. I thought 
we, too, would ride out the storm In this semi- 
madness of Intention and activity on the part of 
Neylan with all his enormous resources of mind 
wrongly focused. The only thing to do was to let 
him go on, which is what happened. Most of the 
Regents behaved in the same way. It was a meeting 
subject to few interruptions. There was one very 
passionate statement by a member of the Advisory 
Committee from the UCLA campus. But aside from that, 
it was a long monologue by Neylan. 

Riess: This Advisory Committee participation in the meeting 
was unusual, wasn t it? 

Lehman: That was what the Advisory Committee was for, to 

advise the President on all things, and to represent, 
with him, the University if called on. They didn t 
call in Just any member of the faculty ordinarily, 
but this was an officially instituted, representative 
group, concurred in by the President and appointed 
by the Committee on Committees. 

Rless: Had it been used In actual contact with the Regents 
before this? 

Lehman: No, but this was one of the things it was expected 
to do. 

Rless: And it was expected that it would really be behind 
the President? 

Lehman: Yes, so far as anyone had foreseen such a confronta 
tion. We weren t bound, of course, to support the 
President if we thought he was wrong. We were, as 
a group of University faculty, of academic intelligence, 
which is supposed to get at the facts and take suitable 
positions, not necessarily pro or con any given man 
or any institution. 


Riess: One would expect In a meeting like this that your 
and the President s feelings would have previously 
come Into agreement, so that you could stand as a 
single unit. 

Lehman: The day before when a member of his staff had tele 
phoned and told me that they were going to "try to 
hang this on the President," I talked to the Presi 
dent and said that the committee ought to have a 
conference with him before going to the Regents 
meeting. We had the conference. I cannot now 
remember If there was an explicit question from me 
or one of my colleagues saying, "Did you or did you 
not make this recommendation? 11 but there was certainly 
a clear Implication that he did not, that It had 
come and he had not objected to It because It would 
not have been wise to object to It, the Legislature 
budget situation being what it was. We were, at that 
early stage, misinformed, whether lied to or not in 
any technical sense. The President was still con 
cealing from us that he had made the proposal at the 
end of the Santa Barbara meeting. 

So, when we got into that Regents meeting, we 
were surprised when Neylan, after making the big 
speech, sent for the secretary of the Regents and 
said he wanted the verbatim minutes of the last 
meeting brought in. He then read the end of the 
preceding business and continued, "And as we were 
moving to adjourn, the President said, Gentlemen, 
there is one thing more," 1 and then proposed the 
oath. Neylan then said, "What will the faculty think 
of this?" Sproul said, in effect, "The faculty will 
go along all right." 

Rless: Then Neylan was all set with Incriminating evidence. 
He must have been gleeful. 

Lehman: I think he was; he thought he could "get him." 

At the end of that meeting, Joel Hildebrand and 
I went out into an anteroom, and President Sproul 
hovered near the door to that room. (To my sense, 
Sproul was hovering, thinking whether he might come 
in and Join us, or he might not. He did not, and 
I think that was wise.) I wanted to talk to 
Hildebrand, and I said, "It seems to me that the only 
thing that can be done is for Sproul to make a simple, 
humble statement to the Senate in full session convened 


Lehman i as to what happened and why he did what he did and 
to express his regret." The faculty will not stand 
for it, otherwise, if then. 

At seven o clock that night, Neylan telephoned 
me at my house and asked me to lunch with him the 
next day at the Pacific Union Club. "Would I meet 
him at his office?" I said I would. I ve forgotten 
Just exactly how the conversation went, but we edged 
up to the subject. At one point, before we went to 
lunch, I said that you could not foist things of 
this sort on a faculty of world renown, it was 
preposterous. He said, "Oh, you re right as rain," 
I remember that phrase. 

We went down on the elevator, chatting. He was 
an enormous man, very handsome, very Irish, very 
persuasive. I was looking up at him as I was standing 
opposite him in the elevator, watching. We got in a 
taxi; we went up to the Pacific Union Club; we had 
lunch; and we talked this thing over without any 
conolusiveness at all. I could see from the beginning, 
or at least after the third or fourth sentence, that 
he was getting at something else. After we had 
finished lunch, he said, "Let s go into the library. 11 

The library at the Pacific Union Club, which 
is in the old Flood Mansion opposite the Fairmont 
Hotel, is an enormous, somewhat shadowed place, full 
of books and nooks books on the shelves and nooks 
where there are chairs and people can read quietly. 
Whether anyone has ever read in there seems to be a 
question in many minds. There is a myth that somebody 
went In to read a book, had a heart attack, and 
wasn t found for a month. [Laughter] There was that 
sort of conspiratorial shadowy background for this 

We began talking, and he said suddenly, abruptly, 
"You know Ernest Lawrence." 

"Yes, he lives two doors from me. I see him 
and his children all the time." 

So he began building up Lawrence, his choice 
for University President. 

Then he came back to the position that we could 
get this all settled if the faculty would pass a 


Lehman! resolution condemning Sproul for his stand and act. 
Then the Regent majority would come behind the 
faculty, the oath would be withdrawn, the Regents 
would fight the faculty s case before the Legislature-- 
this was all in his talk. 

Rless: The first you had learned of such a plan was at this 
meeting with Neylan at the Pacific Union Club? 

Lehmant Yes. I had heard rumors of It, but I couldn t believe 
that it was so carefully calculated a set of moves 
and that Neylan was so determined at this stage. 
I learned most about It that afternoon when he kept 
me hour after hour In the library, all alone, after 

He had seized this opportunity. He got the 
faculty representatives at the Regents meeting; he 
asked to have the minutes brought in with a lot of 
drama instead of having them right before him. It 
was more than euphoric; that performance had a touch 
of mania. Regents who were strongly against Neylan 
in this move remained quiet, and I sensed perhaps 
half an hour after the long meeting got going that 
the reason for their not attacking him, not saying 
anything, was that they sensed that they weren t 
dealing with a man moving In rational patterns at the 
moment . 

Afterwards, I had two things in mind. One was 
that Sproul would have to make a statement to the 
Senate that would clarify the situation. The other 
was that I would like to know really what was going 
on in addition to Neylan s drive. I said to Edward 
Heller, "This is a big mess, and It looks as if only 
one thing was going on" and that was Neylan s move 
to remove Sproul, 

Edward Heller said, "Oh, it s much more compli 
cated than that." And he sighed. He, who was on 
the liberal side and against what was going on, 
showed his personal position but did not then or 
later make any move that would have made It worse 
in terms of the mania that seemed to be at work. In 
light of that, it seems to me, the apparent inertness 
of the people who were against Neylan s forcing the 
oath on the faculty in order to get the faculty to 
rebel against Sproul is explained. People who were 


Lehman* against that series of moves had to lie low for a 
meeting or two, and they did. 

Rless: Why couldn t the leadership have been taken out of 
Neylan s hands right In the very beginning? Why 
did his mania have to be allowed to prevail? 

Lehman: There were several reasons for It. One was that 

they realized that they faoed a powerful, Ingenious, 
and In some ways unscrupulous man driving toward an 
object that he thought a high good. They realized 
that you couldn t deal with the quality of mania 
that was there. I think that they wanted, as the 
Advisory Committee wanted, to save the University by 
not removing Sproul. They thought that the way to 
do that was not to make a head-on clash. In that 
long first Regents meeting, as I said, Mr. Sproul 
said not one word and this was great wisdom, to let 
Mr. Neylan hang himself if possible but in any case 
to reveal his position. 

Neylan had been moving toward this for a long 
time. He was against Sproul Just as there is a 
cabal in the present Regents against Clark Kerr. No 
man can keep that kind of post and keep all of the 
group (normally a dozen or fourteen; they do not 
have the whole [larger] body there every time), all 
of those men lined up. They are opposed to things. 
He has to hurt somebody; he has to take positions 
that seem an affront to deep convictions or even to 
neuroses [laughter] In one regent or another. 

Riessi If Neylan was wise enough to recognize that you 

could not put an oath over on the faculty, he should 
have been wise enough to recognize that any plan to 
coerce would be stopped. 

Lehman: He was not expecting that he or any Regents were 

coercing the faculty to be against Sproul. He Just 
thought he would seize this opportunity when so many 
were against Sproul. 

Always a good many were against Sproul. There 
were members of the faculty who thought he didn t 
do well; all the members of the faculty who hadn t 
been advanced as fast as they wanted to might blame 
it on the Budget Committee or a committee of review, 
but they would also pin it on the President. There 


Lehman: were all sorts of little groups, Just as In a 
national election. 

John Francis Neylan was not pushing Lawrence 
upon us; he was trying to get the faculty to open 
the post. Lawrence was very eminent then, our first 
Nobel Prize man, and he was adored. He was not a 
good administrator in the university sense, so far 
as we know. He was very good, I understood, up at 
the cyclotron, but that was a special kind of thing. 
Whether his imagination would have been capable of 
creating or enhancing the humanities or social 
sciences, I have no means of knowing. He was my 
close neighbor, my friend, an able man, but I think 
no university president. But Neylan was infatuated 
with this idea that Ernest would make a distinguished 
president. Anyway, he would get rid of Sproul, who 
was his enemy by now. (It was neurotic. He resigned 
from the Regents after he failed to do what he 
wanted to do. He said he was going to write about 
education but seemed to go into a kind of disintegra 
tion of his own and died not long afterward.) 

Riess: Was Neylan s concern for University welfare, the 

faculty, or himself? What drove him in this matter? 

Lehman: In all these oases the men who are moving to such 

ends believe they are for the welfare of the institu 
tion, but this is an easy and a common personal 
confusion. I have known chairmen of departments to 
move in the most selfish ways, deluding themselves 
into thinking that they were moving for the good of 
the group. This was the situation with Neylan. 
There was some deeply neurotic thing in it. John 
Francis Neylan told us at length that day in the 
Regents meeting that he had not had an education in 
the high technical sense and he implied he had yet 
prospered in the law and made himself a man of 
very large wealth, of high status, and of influence. 
Through the Hearst press, for he was a Hearst 
attorney, he could get anything planted in the news 
papers. (He referred to this power in the library 
talk.) There were any number of reporters that he 
had helped get into the Establishment. Sproul had 
a group of men all planted in his administrative 
departments who brought in the news. It could work 
from the president to these men or from these men to 
the president. So It was with Neylan. 


Lehman: The whole thing was full of Internal confusion 
and of blotches of haze. You didn t know quite 
what was going on behind this little cloudiness or 
that one. You didn t know whether Neylan said one 
thing and then called the President and said some 
thing quite different. There was nothing forthright 
about It at all. And you couldn t know which of the 
Regents was "in Neylan s pocket." 

Hiess: If Sproul had been an academic person, is it possible 
to Imagine this not happening at all? 

Lehman i No Sproul was a trained engineer and he wasn t in 
the humanities or economics, but he understood all 
these things. He had an extraordinary intuition of 
these things. 

Part of Neylan s resentment of Sproul may have 
been the fact that Sproul actually had so swift an 
Intuition of the factors In areas that were foreign 
to his training; whereas, Neylan, of course, was only 
a manipulator. He always thought of himself as 
having a philosophy of education, but it was childish, 
as he talked to me that day in the Pacific Union Club. 
Yet he was an able man and highly respectable in 
many ways, but a politician and a politician outside 
politics, so that everything was beneath the cloth, 

Rlesst You had not been aware prior to the whole oath issue 
that Neylan was out to get Sproul? 

Lehman: No, I had not been aware of any of this. I did my 

work. I had graduate students; I had writing students; 
I had classes; I had my committee duties. I went 
ahead, putting one foot ahead of the other, and did 
these things. 

Riess: There had not been any other situations where Sproul 
had been tripped up? 

Lehman: None that I knew of, but I had earlier not been 
involved in those things. 

If the Committee on Committees had said to me, 
"Will you accept the chairmanship of the Advisory 
Committee to the President?", I would have said, "No. 
I ve done my chores here for 25 to 30 years. Now 
let me off." I did not think I was equipped for this. 



I don t like that kind of thing and I was extremely 
dubious about the wisdom of suoh a committee. I got 
Into It by chance and I got out of itj I resigned 
from the committee* because I thought the Senate 
ought to have a new representative. 

To regress on this one Item, I had the con 
ference with Neylan In the Pacific Union Club and 
did not go along with any of what he was Implying, 
suggesting or saying forthrlghtly that If the 
faculty would pass the resolution condemning Sproul, 
the whole thing could be settled. I went home, and 
that night I called one of the secretaries and said 
I had a very special letter. I dictated It and sent 
It to Neylan. In It I said I was glad to know, and 
to be able to represent to the Senate, that he would 
undertake to see that this whole nonsense of the 
oath would be withdrawn, as he felt himself In a 
position to do so. I said nothing about Sproul. 
Neylan was on the telephone the next morning when 
he opened his mail, and said, "Now don t get me 
wrong. This Is a tit for tat business you know." 

"Loyalty." "Academic Freedom, " and Feelings in 

Hiess: Had there been any background of feeling and talk 
about the whole loyalty question the year or so 
before? Had there been a dialogue on the issue? 

Lehman: There was talk about it In the press from time to 

time some question as to whether we had Communists 
on the faculty. Whenever you get a neurotic 
attitude outside an institution which is itself 
committed to looking at the facts, you ve got a 
situation in which there will be men saying, 
"Professor So-and-so, he s a Communist," simply 
because he gives a sympathetic account of Communist 
ideologies and attitudes, sympathetic from their 
point of view, that is. 

I ran into this in so simple, so uncontaminated 
a subject as the teaching of English composition. 
In English 4l, the sophomore writing course, I had 
a list of nineteenth century books the first half 
and twentieth century books the second half. A 


Lehman: student picked out six and read them and wrote essays. 
The books included The Idea of a University, by 
Cardinal Newman, and Charles Darwin s Origin of 
Species. I lectured one hour on The Idea of a 
University; the next hour I lectured on the Catholic 
position as it affected that book and then came back 
to the book again. I did this with sympathy. I 
read the great two volume life of Newman. I read 
and spoke of his Apologia Pro Vita Sua, and this was 
a sympathetic presentation of that point of view. A 
few days before, or after, I lectured on the Origin 
of Species, and the only inference to draw from that 
is, of course, that Christian dogma set up on 
Christian history is nonsense. I gave that a sym 
pathetic treatment. 

Within a matter of weeks I had, and the President 
had, letters, one saying I was anti-Catholic, and 
the other saying I was pro-Catholic and religion had 
no place in school. I had the same problem in the 
Bible course. This Is the kind of situation that 
got into the press when people in political science 
and in economics gave sympathetic accounts of what 
It was that Lenin had in mind, or seemed to have in 
mind, to set up. That was the thing I had heard about 
before, and It didn t seem any different from the kind 
of difficulties we were all getting into anyway. 

Riess: Stephen Pepper mentioned being at Harvard the year 

before and talking to Conant about what would happen 
if there was Just such a Red scare on campus, and 
Conant said that no matter what the threat to the 
endowments, they simply would not stand for it. There 
was no question about It. They would not be vulnerable. 
Was that stand possible for the University of California? 

Lehman: I don t really know. I do not know how close the 
balance would have been in the Legislature in the 
Committee on Ways and Means, which in those days had 
the budget report. 

Rless: During the general confusion prevailing at the time 
of the oath question, academic freedom was the 
rallying cry. The book The Year of the Oath makes 
this point.* Do you think that faculty members really 

*George Stewart, Th^e Year of the Oath, Doubleday, 
New York, 1950. 


Hiess: do have such a passionate commitment to that Idea? 

Lehman: I do not know how It is now or if I can recapture 
how it was. Many people spoke to me about it. I 
was a friend to Alec Melklejohn, who was strong for 
academic freedom. (At Amherst he had not accorded 
it always when he was president; he decided whether 
a man was a good teacher or not and put them out or 
kept them on accordingly.) He had been a close 
friend for years of one of my colleagues in English, 
James Caldwell. 

Edward Tolman and I were close friends since 
1920, and he and especially his wife were civil 
liberties and academic freedom advocates. I would 
hear a great deal about the issue from them, but I 
thought they made too much of it. I did not know of 
a case in my time at the University in which what 
I think of as academic freedom was impinged upon, 
except in connection with the oath. A man had a 
right to express his opinions, his Judgments, in 
the area of his competence. If he was wrong, another 
Judgment opponent to that one would prevail, or so 
we always thought. 

I remembered that way back in the early 1920s 
when I was a youngster on the faculty, I came home 
from a symphony concert one night on the ferry, and 
Gilbert Lewis, the great chemist, was there. He had 
a paper spread out, the morning s Chronicle or 
Examiner, and I was headlined. I looked at it and 
he said, "They are quoting you on a subject you have 
no right to talk about." This was the great Gilbert 
Lewis, and I learned from that. But we have a great 
many people who do do that. I know two men in the 
English Department who are always going off half- 
cocked about the political or the economic situation. 
That is not the area of their competence, but we 
stood for academic freedom even in that area, or 
perhaps it was citizen s freedom. 

Riess: I wondered if academic freedom was a concept dis 
covered with relief by people who did not know how 
they stood. 

Lehman: I don t know that that was so; I was not out taking 

the pulse. I know a great many people on the faculty 
who never considered it at all and used to laugh at 


Lehman: it. I always thought that Alexander Melklejohn and 
the rest made too much fuss about it. 

I remember meeting Alec Melklejohn once on a 
noon walk at the time of the oath and stopping to 
talk with him, not wishing to get involved yet 
involved because he and his wife were so passionately 
clear that the most important thing now was to defeat 
the oath party. I said, "I don t think it is the 
most important thing at all." (I can see perfectly 
well were we were standing, what house was here and 
what tree there, right in the street.) "I think 
the most important thing is to save the University, 
and perhaps the first step in that will not be to 
defeat the oath, but support and keep the President." 

We had a great many passionate people. George 
Potter broke down over the oath and had a heart 
attack. He had succeeded me as chairman of the 
Department of English. When he had the heart attack, 
the Department of English had an advisory committee 
to the chairman. I did not know that he had had a 
heart attack. I was telephoned and asked if I would 
meet with the advisory committee at ten o clock in 
the little department library that we then had, up 
in the top of Wheeler. When I got there I made a 
Joke about this, and my intuition was right, he had 
broken down. The committee asked me to go back as 
chairman until he was well, for the rest of the year. 
After some consideration I can remember putting my 
head in my hands and thinking and getting gooseflesh 
to have to do it again after five years I said, 
"Yes, their Judgment ought to be persuasive." And 
I took it. 

The next day, James Caldwell, who was my good, 
close friend, came in and said, "You should never 
have accepted this after your stand on the oath." 
My stand on the oath was that I thought the first 
steps of the whole faculty should be to save the 
University and fight the oath in the courts. 

Riess: Why did Caldwell think you should have refused? 

Lehman: Because he was a highly excitable ACLU man; he 

thought I was prejudiced against those people in 
the department who said they were going to resign. 
He was one of those who said he was going to resign 


Lehman: and then did not. The younger men who did resign 
used him as an example. He told me that he had 
talked it over with his wife and was going to resign 
if the oath was required. Then they talked it over 
some more and he did not resign. 

With regard to such matters as the oath, it 
always seemed to me that you had to fall back there 
was never an hour in that period or in my life when 
I did not believe this that you always have to fall 
back on this position: "I do Indeed believe that 
the democratic process will work and, therefore, must 
believe that gradually the majority of the people 
will see the light on this." 

I can remember that during the McCarthy days 
people who were very serene normally were so excited 
that they could not talk about anything else at 
dinner or lunch and thought the country was really 
coming under a Fascist power. It seemed to me that 
my experience with the American people was that there 
were enough intelligent people in the country to see 
through this very shortly. That was all hurried up 
by the television revelations, with people who were 
not in the habit of reading seeing how preposterous 
the man was. Aside from the printed page, people 
could and did see him on television, and then, of 
course, came the breakdown. First came the breakdown 
of his position and then the breakdown of his psyche. 

There are groundswells in the nation. That was 
one of them. There is one perhaps developing now 
in connection with Vietnam, and there have been 
groundswells in the University in my time. 

Riess: The one last year [Free Speech Movement, 196^-65], 
in a way connected with Vietnam, was connected also 
with a definition of the University s position in 
relation to issues war, civil rights, etc. 

Lehman: It was even more complex. Does academic freedom 

extend down to any member of the student body? Does 
academic freedom extend to any intellectual or 
pseudo-intellectual who choses to live in the neigh 
borhood of the University, not a student but play- 
student? I thought it was very complex, and nothing 
but laughter saves that. McCarthy was laughed out 
ultimately. I think if he had been President last 
year, Sproul would have made one student address, 
one bellowing, Jocose speech, and kidded them to 


Lehman: death. As it was there was nobody with enough 
personal magnetism and enough humor. 

Do you know the kind of thing McCraoken said 
at Vassar College when Edna Mlllay behaved In a 
certain un- Vassar girl manner? She was already a 
published poet. He sent for her and said, "Ed, you 
can do anything you like. I m not going to throw 
you out. I m not going to have any Shelleys on 
my doorstep." [Laughter] And she stopped. 

Riess: The thing last year shows that the University does 
not collapse under these things. 

Lehman: Ed Strong was confused; it was a case of a philosopher 
and a man of action being at odds with himself. 

When I read The Year of the Oath (George asked 
me to read it in manuscriptT, I felt it was not 
full enough in places, too full in others, too 
speculative, and the author believed too readily the 
things people told him. Also, plainly, he hadn t 
all of the documents. 

Riess: It was written before the whole thing was over. 

Lehman: Yes, and it is perhaps not as sharply analytical as 
it should be. His gift for narrative is imposing, 
but his gift for analytical statement is less so. 

The object of the oath fight was, of course, to 
save the University, Just as during the last two 
years the object of most of the people working 
against the student revolts was to save the University. 
They may not always have made the right moves, but 
their object was not to win but to arrange things 
to bring about a situation In which men wouldn t, If 
they were called to Yale or the University of Pittsburgh, 
say, "This is no place for me; sure I ll go." We had 
the same kind of thing then. 

It ought also to be remembered in this connection 
that all of it had happened at the end of the Depres 
sion. There had been salary cuts; back a few years, 
some had been restored, and some had not been restored. 
The war had intervened. The reconstitution of the 
faculty was full of anxiety, because there weren t 
enough people properly trained to become the teachers 
for the Increased student body. Salaries had been 


Lehman: cut once; they could be cut again. They were out 

in the Depression in the early thirties. Many people 
had come to the University lured by climate, by the 
repute of the institution, but hadn t yet settled in, 
and it was easy for them to go away. 

Some Europeans who hadn t left Europe before 
the Second World War and who had suffered horrors 
through the war had left at the end of the war and 
were very uncertain about what this could mean, 
whether this was another Hitler business or not. 
There were complicating psychological factors, which 
have somehow to be gathered up if a true account is 
to be given. These factors must be woven around the 
solid core of the statements made in letters and 
otherwise taken down from dictation leading up to 
the court trial in which the Enabling Act, which was 
drawn up by Dwinelle for whom Dwindle Hall is named, 
prevailed for the freedom of the University. 

Riess: You give it a sound of the Inevitable, as something 
that was Inevitable in this period of history. 

Lehman: I hadn t Intended to do that, but I would stand by 
that view. It was drama, you know, and in drama it 
isn t always the things people say or even the things 
they do but rather the climate within which they say 
them or do them that makes the conclusion tragic or 
otherwise. I think that s the reason drama is best 
when it s written in great style, in poetry, because 
the poetry carries these things that are out of the 
climate and that aren t purely rational or descrlbably 
felt but are there nonetheless. 

I think that I was right at the time (although 
this may be self-Justification) to get out at a 
certain point, because I thought there had to be 
changes for several reasons. One, that if a man got 
out it would look to the disaffected and the dis 
gruntled- with- process as though he were a scapegoat, 
and they like and need a scapegoat in that. I 
thought it was important to get out because I thought 
it was important to have a man with more legal train 
ing there. I felt that if I left the post for Malcolm 
Davisson, who was there so briefly, it would be all 
to the good. I think it was, though he broke down 
under it. 

Lehman: As for Professor Stewart s suggestion that 
there was soul-searching and personal unrest In 
the faculties, I didn t understand whether he felt 
It was there before the thing came on or whether It 
was there as a result, I think the University over 
a long period was Inquiring into its teaching 
methods, into the place that project research had 
in a university. There was a great deal of very 
fine, high-grade unrest and concern lest the 
University, which should be dedicated to basic 
pure research, shift over under the assignments 
which had begun before and during the war to project 
research getting "fixed" problems solved, getting 
solutions for situations, developing weapons and so 
on. There was a great deal of disquiet through the 
University at that time on these grounds. This, 
of course, had come to a fantastic climax with the 
development of the bomb at Los Alamos, all of which 
was done under the University s aegis. The Manhattan 
Project was separate, but the activity down there 
was run by a University set-up. 

Riess: That certainly is something to consider, the feelings 
of these men in the sciences who had been tied so 
closely to the government for so many years anyway. 

Lehman: Some of them were very concerned, but it was the 

philosophers and some of the men in the humanities 
who were most concerned. A man like William Dennes, 
now an emeritus professor in philosophy, wrote 
articles Justifying this kind of project research 
and raising philosophical considerations. This was 
the kind of unrest I observed over and above, the 
unrest that Is always there. I think university 
men are always looking for better ways of doing 
things, and especially in an era like that when men 
of action, as distinguished from men merely of 
thought devoted to the dissemination of knowledge, 
had been at the forefront for half a decade. 

Riess: It seems as If periodically there has been a reassess 
ment of the faculty s relation to the running of the 
University; almost every twenty years something 
happened . 

Lehman: I think it happens everywhere, although sometimes 

it is somewhat disguised. If you think, for instance, 
that President Eliot s revolution at Harvard the 


Lehman: building of graduate schools of all sorts, and pro 
fessional schools, freeing the undergraduate for 
taking all courses, If he liked, In physics, or all 
In French, having no organized program of under 
graduate study but Instead what he called the 
elective system was done simply or easily, you are 

Bless: But he came In and gave that to the university. 
There wasn t a faculty revolution, was there? 

Lehman: Oh, yes. So many of the faculty were very strongly 
against that and other measures that he took that 
he allowed them to use the university press to nrint 
their arguments against him. He worked hard In a 
long series of faculty meetings to put this thing 
over, and he didn t get It done all at once either. 
He never got freshman English out as he felt It 
should be. 

There had been men In the Harvard faculty who 
were disquieted with the old methods, such as learn 
ing Hebrew, Greek, and Latin and learning nothing 
else. After Eliot, It followed that when Lowell 
came In he Immediately started to be the spokesman 
for those members of the faculty who were dis 
gruntled and dismayed by the bad results of the 
elective system. So he put In concentration and dis 
tribution programs. He was disgruntled with the way 
students lived anywhere, so he built "the houses," 
giving himself the money for the first of the houses, 
and he had the Instructors live there. Eliot s Idea 
was that If a student wanted to see a professor he 
would go and find him. Lowell s Idea was that he 
would be right there In the house. 

The rebellion here In the last couple of years 
Is a rebellion of students, and that Is part of the 
malaise that Is In the world at large I m sure. 

Rless: But at least two years ago It found so much sympathy 
In the faculty. 

Lehman: That In part Is a hangover from the time of the oath 
freedom of speech, academic freedom. 

Rless: I ve been told that the oath comes up very often now. 
A man s position on the oath Is checked out and quoted 
back to him now. 


Lehman: It could well be. It will be full of contradictions, 
human beings being what they are* 

President Robert Gordon Sproul and the Oath 

mess: You talked with Hildebrand while Sproul hovered at 

the door about having Sproul get up and make a clean 
breast of the whole thing before the Academic Senate. 
Did you ever suggest it to Sproul? 

Lehman: Yes, later, and he said, "The time will come for 

that," And it did. The man is enormously gifted. 
He made a very skillful statement. It had the 
quality of apology, the quality of excuse, the 
quality of confession, the quality of Justification. 
He Just put it in, layer on layer. 

Rless: Why didn t he make It at the time? 

Lehman: He thought it was not ready or maybe he wasn t ready. 
The man is a very great artist; the thing had not 
matured yet. 

Bless: It would appear that it was a sudden piece of unwisdom 
on Sproul s part in not rejecting the oath proposal, 
and then he became bound up in it. 

Lehman: I think it was a momentary failure of insight. When 
he went before the Regents at Santa Barbara and said 
Just before adjournment, "Just one thing more," the 
question was asked and was read to us in the meeting, 
"What will the faculty think of this?" And, "They 
won t go along with that." I think it was a failure 
of insight. 

You can put it another way and say that Sproul, 
whose intuitions of these things were on the whole 
very reliable, panicked. Remember that you are In 
the end of the forties. He was on the point of crown- 
Ing the Institution with greatness, because in the 
end, no matter how well the committees or the chair 
men chose people from all over the country, it was 
his final responsibility to see that the funds were 
there. He was about to make the great institution. 
Whether he foresaw at that moment that it would be 


Lehman: so enlarged and that you would have to have a strong 
base, or whether he simply wanted It to wear a crown, 
it was comparable with Harvard In every respeot. 
(Every four or five years they had checkups.) 

I think he panicked. His life work was threat 
ened, and for a moment he was blind and didn t see 
the other possibilities. He didn t consult with 
anyone so far as I know; he didn t consult with 
Walker, or with Joel Hlldebrand, or with me, or with 
Sailor Davis. 

Riess: At that point do you think he felt he could destroy 
Neylan as much as Neylan felt that he could destroy 
Sproul? Do you think Sproul really entered Into the 

Lehman: I have no guess on that. Obviously Sproul was in 

s wordplay with Neylan and he may have had the sense 
that Neylan had now overreached himself and would 
break up, which he did. But I never discussed the 
matter with Sproul and I don t know. 

I saw Neylan once later at the Coblentzes up In 
Sonoma at a party where there were certainly 150 
people, a lunch party. He saw me from his height 
and came over to me. We talked a little. I had no 
Inkling then that he was breaking up, but a few 
months later someone saw him at a smaller gathering 
and told me that he was confused and crisscrossed 
in his talk. Then he did have a breakdown. He did 
not write, which he said he was going to do when he 
resigned from the Regents. (That, of course, was 
Sproul *s victory; he got him off the Regents, by 
his own act. ) 

Altogether, this was one place where Sproul s 
Imagination failed him. He might, when Corley said 
he thought they could best get the budget through 
In all this stir if they had the faculty sign the 
oath, have said, "No, I don t think the faculty will 
stand for that; we have to devise other ways and 
means. " Or he might have consulted with Hlldebrand, 
or with Stephen Pepper, or even with me, and said, 
"What do you think?" But he did it on his own and 
he did it at the end of the Regents meeting, when 
they were finished, so that there was no time to 
discuss it. 


Lehman: There were men on the Regents who did not be 
lieve In It, and men who Instantly saw that It would 
be the celebrated cause of this decade If not of the 
century. I always thought that It was nonsense. I 
don t like gas masks, for Instance, but If there 
were poison In the air, I would wear a gas mask until 
the poison was gone. This was the sort of thing I 
felt we were up against. 

If you go back and think of Campbell as President, 
this could never have happened In Campbell s regime. 
I doubt that It could have happened In Barrow s time, 
with Barrows as President. Campbell was a man of 
the most rigorous thought processes, conditioned by 
a lifetime spent In the comparative solitude of 
Mount Hamilton as an astronomer, conditioned by the 
processes of mathematics and the reliable mathematical, 
astronomical phenomena of the heavens. He always 
worked with rigor In the application of his thought 
to academic matters. Perhaps he was a little 
Puritanic In the rigors. 

Campbell would not have had Corley represent 
him In the oapltol, If he had gone on as President 
Into the difficult time of the Depression. He would 
have had a more academic person. Indeed, he would 
have gone up himself. Actually he had Sproul go 
up, and Sproul was extremely skillful. Sproul was 
much more academic than Corley. Sproul had grown 
up In engineering and learned to talk as an equal 
with the academic-minded, whereas Jim Corley always 
felt that he had to keep Legislature relations on 
the "hail-fellow-well-met" agreeable side. 

Rless: What do you think Campbell s relations would have 
been with the Regents? 

Lehman: Campbell s relations with the Regents were rock- 
bottom solid. He was President for only seven 
years, and It makes a difference whether a man Is 
weathering out 25 years toward the end of that 
perlod--or whether he Is Just going a decade and 
has already enormous prestige. They brought Campbell 
down from the mountain to straighten out the finances 
at the Medical School at an earlier time. His 
solutions to the problems were so clean-cut that they 
were awed by the man s capacity and made him 
President when Barrows withdrew. 


Lehman: That was a period of comparing what you had 
with what preceded. Wheeler got into trouble in 
terms of a wide and perhaps throughly national set 
of attitudes toward Germany. Then there was the 
interregnum of the triumvirate. Then there was 
Barrows, so that Campbell seemed a great, solid 
man, and was. 

I have never known the full story of Sproul *s 
appointment to the presidency. He was named 
President in the absence of W.H. Crocker, who was 
the big man on the board, and this may have had some 
long-range influence on him. Crocker came back from 
Europe or New York and wanted the appointment 
revoked, I have heard. The result of that was that 
Sproul had a long conference with him and he agreed, 
impressed by Sproul in that very long evening con 
ference, that Sproul should have a chance at it. 

Sproul did a magnificent Job; considering the 
Depression, when salaries had to be cut, he managed 
wonderfully. Sproul s 25 years are going to be the 
key 25 years, I believe. All the preparation for 
the Clark Kerr thing was done in his time. Clark 
Kerr came at a time when the tens of millions Just 
rained on the University. We had to fight to get 
forty or fifty millions; now they operate in terms 
of hundreds of millions. 

There is a poet in Sproul; he is a great 
imaginer of things. At the same time there was a 
small-time politician in him. There were many people 
who had a personal distrust of Sproul. He was not 
an intellectual in their sense. Other people, who 
hadn t been advanced, felt it to be the President s 
fault. That failure to advance may have been the 
result of a Judgment by a committee of their peers, 
the promotion committees, or the Budget Committee; 
but after all the President in the end gets it. 

Riess: Is that the way a man would see it, that the President 
was really the man to blame? I would think that he 
had so many buffers in the form of committees that 
he would be spared. 

Lehman: I know all too well that sometimes they said that 
a certain chairman of the Budget Committee was a 
son-of-a-bitch, and you would never get by him. 
But as a matter of fact It was known that the President 


Lehman: had the right to reverse these Judgments. People 
who weren t advanced sometimes actually managed to 
get, hard as it was, appointments with him to 
state their case. Then, of course, he would say, 
"Well, this is what I am advised by the Budget 

There was a good deal of that, and there was 
also the fact that Sproul was very busy. He had a 
comparatively small staff. If you compare it with 
Clark Kerr s set-up, Sproul s was fantastically 
meager, and he was too busy to see people. There 
were people who were disgruntled about that and all 
kinds of little things. It s what we are saying now 
about Lyndon Johnson or said about Pat Brown in the 
election, "You ve been in office for a long time, 
and in order to get things done you have made 
enemies as well as friends." The enemies are usually 
more articulate; friends only rise in defense, but 
the others attack and grumble. This was the kind 
of thing that happened. Sproul had been there since 
1930 and that s a long time. The average incumbency 
of presidents in those days was three or four years 
over the whole country, and very few men had lasted 
as long as he had. 

It s also true that there were voices round 
that were generally fearful about the world, the 
McCarthy atmosphere and intention, for example, and 
feared it would get the University. I know James 
Caldwell often talked to me about that. On the 
fringe of the University, Alexander Meiklejohn was 
very ready to argue these matters and to make valid 
headway, but he also set up attitudes in certain 
people who couldn t think the thing through and 
made them disgruntled or distrustful. The plain 
fact was that through all the years Sproul did the 
great preparatory Job on top of which, as foundation, 
the present expansion of the University was possible. 
Though one or two people left because they didn t 
like the atmosphere, hundreds came, people of world 
renown in all the fields. So distrust wasn t 
warranted in those areas, whether or not it was 
warranted in the others where a man is a president 
and therefore a political figure who manipulates. 
I suppose there was a credibility gap. 

Hiess: We are now talking about the faculty s credibility 
rather than the people of the State of California. 


Lehman: Sproul was very strong with the people of California, 
and he was strong with the students. 

Riess: I still don t understand why he didn t deal strongly 
with the oath issue back in 1950* He had the support 
of the people of California, and the oath issue was 
going to be brought to a vote. 

Lehman: To my mind, the reason would be simply that it takes 
time to mobilize the approvals of all these people 
through the state. The people of the state at the 
moment were tinged with fear, and into this moved 
Neylan with a single statement, "He s soft on 
Communism." It can t be good for the University to 
lose a man, and more than that, Sproul had the 
deepest determination from way back to last until 
retirement. I m sure that this was a kind of delight 
ful game he played with himself "I ll make it." 
And it was a long time, nearly thirty years, but it 
was a magnificent Job Just the same. I don t think 
he would have managed it if it hadn t been that Earl 
Warren was in the governor s chair. 

Riess: Do you know what Sproul was heading for? Was he 

going to retire as President, or was he going on to 
other heights? 

Lehman: There were times when it was thought that he would 

run for senator. I remember once teasing Ida Sproul, 
his wife, about it at a luncheon at the President s 
House. She said, "I m against it. If he runs, I 
don t run with him." She was laughing, but still it 
was clear. I think he wet his finger and held it 
up in the wind every week for a long time on this 

Riess: Perhaps Neylan would have backed him in that kind of 
activity in order to get him out of the University. 

Lehman: He might well have. It is also possible that Sproul 
hoped for a Republican Administration, in which he 
would be a member of the Cabinet. I think that was 
In the cards. He was advisor, and perhaps more than 
that, to certain functions in Washington. But the 
defeat of Dewey, the extra four years of Truman as 
President, left Sproul, as a notable Republican, 
out of it, and then really too old. Pauley, who was 
his great good friend, was appointed and took him 


Lehman: along on that evaluation tour In the Orient, bombing 
practices and such during the war. If a Republican 
regime had come In four or eight years earlier, he 
probably would have gone on to Washington, being a 
notable figure in one of the growing states. 

Controller James Corley and the Oath 

Riess: The role of Corley In the oath Issue is something 
that people still wonder about. 

Lehman: I never knew what it was. He was one of the men that 
was very close to Sproul. He was a politician and 
may have arranged something up there afterwards to 
prove that Sproul was right. 

Riess: January, 19^9 "Controller James Corley, in his 
capacity as University representative at the 
Legislature, recommends to President Robert G. Sproul 
that an ant 1 -Communist oath be required of the faculty 
as a preventive to the possible passage of legisla 
tion dangerous to the University." (The Year of the 

Lehman: I think that Corley, who was a charming fellow and 
seemed very easygoing but was very tough underneath, 
would have felt that his obligation was to get the 
money to pay the salaries, to staff the laboratories, 
to buy the books, to keep the rooms. 

Riess: Any way he could. 

Lehman: Not any way he could, but you know how these guys 
are up there from the cow counties. He always had 
to deal with representatives of Alpine County, for 
instance. What did they know about what a university 
was? The cow counties had the balance. 

I grew up in a mining camp; I have seen people 
who had not the smallest inkling of what the great 
Issues in the world were take violent stands. In 
my boyhood, the ant 1 -Cleveland people, the pro- 
McKlnley people because Cleveland was wrecking the 
American economy, the American political set-up took 
such stands. One of the amusing things of the teens 


Lehman: for people of my generation was to see all those 

who had been for Theodore Roosevelt go anti-Theodore 
Roosevelt, because he was undermining the things 
that they took for granted. This Is what the people 
In the cow counties did. They didn t have concepts; 
they had allegiances. 

I think Jim Corley*s position and his personal 
qualities ought to have a restatement. I have no 
doubt that he was alarmed when he saw how all the 
small, rural, and conservative elements In the 
Legislature were reacting to the few liberal or 
radical spokesmen on the campus. It was natural 
that he should be alarmed, for In the first place he 
was responsible to the President and the Regents for 
getting the budget through, and In the second place, 
he was the pal of a great many members of the faculty 
and continually among them In one way or another. If 
he had failed and their salaries had been cut or 
their laboratory allowances or the library allowances 
had been cut, It would have been a very uncomfortable 

He was a man who had a great talent for comfort 
able personal relations, and he maintained these 
even where antagonisms existed. It Is a remarkable 
social talent that he had. He did by temperament 
as well as by direction the things that he had to 
do, and it was he, no doubt, who said to Sproul, 
"If you can get the oath through, we ll get all the 
money." Corley s actions were perfectly natural, 
given his nature and the situation in which he was, 
namely procuring funds. 

Ben.lamln Lehman and the Oath 

Riess: Now, let s talk about your role in the oath issue, 
as a member of the Advisory Committee. Earlier we 
talked about the Advisory Committee s presence at 
the Regents meeting In San Francisco. You mentioned 
that you resigned soon after. But you did not resign 
until the whole issue was resolved, did you? 


Lehman: Yes, I did, and Malcolm Davisson was made the chair 
man. He broke down and had a heart attack. 

Rless: He was made the chairman of the special committee 

substituted for the Advisory Committee, the Conference 

Lehman: They may have changed It then. I went out at once. 
I think Joel did too, and then when Malcolm Davlsson 
had a heart attack In the midst of all this, the 
Irishman, the Dean of the School of Engineering, 
O Brien, was made chairman of the committee. 

Over all, as I have said elsewhere, I thought 
the University could be best served by keeping Sproul 
as President In spite of his blunder. And a new 
conference chairman was needed. But I resigned for 
a complex of reasons, partly because I did not think 
In the first place that I ought to have been In that 
post. I was not fitted for It, being nothing of 
the politician. I went out also because Sproul had 
not been forthright and honest with us in the meeting 
before we went to the Regents the next day. But 
chiefly I went out because we had a meeting of 49 
people one evening, all the people who had advisory 
or leadership places in the faculty, and the talk 
never got anywhere. I proposed one thing and one 
thing only. I proposed that the faculty as a whole 
sign the oath, but that one or, at most, two or three 
men refused to sign the oath. I would prefer that 
one only refuse since that would lighten the burden 
of what I was about to propose. The rest of my 
proposal was that one man resign and we would go to 
court . 

I had, that afternoon, read again the Enabling 
Act, the constitutional statement that created the 
University, and the old Charter Act. I found in It 
that statement that the members of the faculty shall 
be subject to no oath or other requirement save 
such as are enforced for all citizens. (In fact, 
it was on that sentence which we quoted in a letter 
which is extant in the Library, that finally the 
dissident, resigning members of the faculty based 
their case and won it in the courts. Prom the 
beginning we were on beam, however it looked from 
outside. ) 


Lehman: I thought I saw clearly that no court in the 

world would allow the oath to stand. So I propose! 
that we have one man resign and go to court, that 
the faculty support that man at his normal salary 
as an unofficial member of the faculty, doing what 
ever researches he wished, and that we collect that 
much money and also perhaps $40,000 to put the case 
through the courts. If the faculty did not want to 
do that, I proposed that they resign as a total 
group until the oath was withdrawn. 

No one spoke to the first proposal, no one. 
To the second proposal Will Dennes spoke, saying, 
"Do you really think that a strike, which is what 
this would be, would prevail?" 

"How could it not prevail?" 

No one else spoke. Other proposals were, for 
example, to raise money for all the people whose 
consciences would not allow them to sign the oath. 
The end of that was that we would have to support 
thirteen or seventeen people. (Mrs. Lehman and I 
gave #12,000 as a first contribution toward Just 
printing the materials to go to court.) 

Riess: This was a case where the faculty had to act 
instantly and could not. 

Lehman: They are not geared for that sort of thing. No 

matter how much they deal with the real world, they 
do live in an off-world, a bayou, a little backwater. 
They try things out theoretically before they are 
tried out practically, and here they were suddenly 
thrown into that practical world. 

Years ago I said to a senior member of the 
faculty, "What do you think a young member of the 
faculty should do or have in the way of an invest 
ment policy?" 

He said, "I think a young man on the faculty 
should have an investment policy that makes it 
unnecessary for him to think of his investments." 

Up until the Depression and later no one dis 
cussed much whether he was going to vote for X or Y 
in my experience, not even on the local issues. So 


Lehman: that they are In a library alcove. This, more than 
not having any apparatus, hampered them. 

Maybe one could have got UD in the faculty 
meeting and made a Daniel Webster speech and got 
the faculty to vote against the whole proposal, 
which would have thrown Sproul out no question about 
that. That isn t what they wanted to do either. 
And some of them wanted to go along. 

Of those men who went out, some for one reason 
and some for another, some never came back. Some 
came back and were honored, like Edward Tolman, who 
would not on his own have made all this fuss. The 
young men went to him and said, "Now you be our 
leader." He and several others came up and sat in 
the garden at Tamalpais Road one afternoon and talked 
about whether they ought to go ahead with it. Some 
body ought to go ahead with it, and he was in a 
better financial position than most. 

Riess: Neither of your two proposals to "the ^9" were 

Lehman: They weren t even discussed, but in the end it was 

a modified form of the first one that saw us through. 
Actually, the argument made by the attorneys and 
accepted by the court, based on what is in the state 
constitution concerning the University s autonomy, 
was the same one I made when we went in to see Sproul 
the night before the Regents meeting, the statement 
that I made without any suprcorting argument, simply 
reading the passage in the Regents meeting and th3 
statement I made to the faculty. There was no 
difference, no new arguments. It simply had to 
move through all the channels and a lot of legal work 
had to be done. 

Rless: Before your resignation from the Advisory Committee, 
there was some communication with the Regents. 

Lehman: I was out of it after that letter to Neylan written 
after our private meeting. 

Hless: On June 18th, "the Advisory Committee (Northern 

Section) confers with [the] President and proposes 
as a first solution the traditional oath plus a 
statement of University policy on the employment or 



Riess : 

Lehman : 




retention of Communists which faculty members woult 1 . 
merely express their acquiescence in. A second 
solution, to be employed only if the public rela 
tions of the University make an amplification of 
the [traditional] oath indispensable, 1 might read: 
That I am not under oath, nor a party to any 
agreement, nor as a member of any party or organiza 
tion am I under any...." 1 [This and following quote 
from The Year of the Oath.] 

Was I the chairman when that was proposed? 

This was June 18, 19^9, before the Summer Session 
and Just after the faculty adjourned. In the 
Advisory Committee 19^8-19^9 Hildebrand was chairman 
and you were on the committee. In 19^*9-1950 you 
were chairman. There was a Conference Committee 
formed in fall, 19^9, under Malcolm Davisson, but 
the Advisory Committee was the body at least until 
the fall. 

I do not recall having anything to do with all those 

The first non-signers meeting June 27, a few days 
later, took the position that "[the] new oath is 
not essentially better than [the] old one, that 
[the] Advisory Committee was not given power to 
act, and that individual Senate members are there 
fore not bound by the committee s action." There 
is murmuring of "sold down the river" upon the land. 
This is a question that always comes up in connection 
with the loyalty oath. Was the Advisory Committee 
empowered to act? 

I don t think it was. I never thought it was 
empowered to act. It was empowered to consult and 
report . 

Did Hildebrand think that he or the committee was 
empowered to act? 

He was not chairman at the time we met with the 
Regents. He had moved down. 

We are talking about June of 19^9. 

Then he was still chairman. It is a little confused 
in my mind because I think Neylan asked me a question 


Lehman: across the board. I said, "I am not chairman of 

the Advisory Committee, Regent Neylan, and I would 
like the experienced chairman, Mr. Joel Hlldebrand, 
to answer." He had to return It to me on July 1st. 
As I have tried to suggest, there was something 
very sleazy about the whole thing. The chairman of 
the Advisory Committee was not like the chairman 
of a department with some delegated authority. He 
was to consult and report as chairman of the 
committee representing the Senate In the President s 

Rless: On June 1^, 19^9, which was apparently the last 

meeting of the Academic Senate before a real adjourn 
ment, with a large attendance and much discussion, 
the "Advisory Committee Is Instructed to consult 
with the President with a view to working out such 
a solution, 1 " that solution being a modified oath. 
"This resolution Is passed In an upsurge of enthu 
siasm and Idealism with only four or five dissenting 
votes, but It has to be acted on without time for 
full and proper consideration of all Its bearings. 
In consequence the faculty makes an Important 
Parliamentary mistake, which Is to vex them later 
and perhaps fatally to Injure their cause; viz., 
certain members believe the Advisory Committee has 
been entrusted with power to act, while other members 
believe the committee has been given power only to 
consult and refer the matter back to the Senate." 

Lehman: That distinction between power to act and power to 
consult developed In the general consciousness 
after those meetings. It did not come up at that 

Riess: Do you think the reason was that people still had 
not had time to think? 

Lehman: They were confused. There were several kinds of 
confusion. There was the confusion with respect 
to the oath; there was a confusion with respect to 
the relation of the Senate and the President In a 
thing like this; there was the confusion that arose 
from the fact that Corley and Pettit were presidential 
representatives and advisors and go-betweens; and 
there was confusion in the members of the faculty 
because they had lived In a backwater, and suddenly 
they were thrust into spearhead decision without 


Lehman: having had a long period of experience with these 

I am struck, reading of the life of John Adams, 
how long, how many years of preparation the basic 
Issues had In the minds of men like Adams and 
Franklin. We did not have any of that; they Just 
plunged Into It. I was no more fitted to take care 
of It than most members of the faculty. I doubt 
whether any were. Malcolm Davlsson, who was a 
professor of economics, had gone, after he was an 
assistant professor, to Michigan or Wisconsin and 
taken a law degree. He was a trained legalist, and 
it was perfectly clear that he had better equipment 
to take care of this than any of the rest of us. 
I so recommended to the Committee on Committees, and 
he succeeded me. The strain of the thing, the 
multiple pressures caused him to really have a 
breakdown. He was out for a long time with some 
kind of cardiac involvement. (Mike O Brien, who 
was an able man but not a legalist at all, followed 
Davisson. I do not know why they picked him, perhaps 
because he talked a lot.) 

My own feeling was that we had a long-range 
activity at the University. Under leadership of the 
President and the Budget Committee In the pre- and 
post-wartime we were busy building up the University 
to the point where it would have the rating that it 
presently has. There were departments that were 
strong but not distinguished. We were getting chair 
men who would bother to comb the country to find 
people who would fill in. It did not seem to me 
that this aberration, which was like a mania running 
through the country, was more than temporary. We 
were not in the position of Harvard or Yale, who 
could turn down one gift or ten gifts. We would 
be turning down 8? per cent of our income if the 
Legislature said, "Okay, no money." 

Chances are we could have gone to court and had 
the court say that the state was responsible for 
the salaries of all people on tenure. But you make 
a faculty great by cultivating the most gifted of 
your non-tenure neople and bringing them along, 
and they would all have gone, because the state had 
no obligation to them. 


Bless: Chances are also that this would never have come to 

Lehman: Yes, I would have thought so. 

People said, after that faculty meeting of 49 
or 50 of us, that I could easily propose that we go 
on strike because I had resources. It would be all 
right for Tolman or for Pepper, but what about the 
men who were In debt and Just able to keep going In 
the expectation of a little Improvement In salary 
next year? 



Hiess: What was the social role of the chairman of the 
English Department, or what did it come to be? 
How did it change as the department grew and began 
to turn outward? 

Lehman: For eleven years preceding Cline s going in for one 
year of the chairmanship and then my going in for 
a longer time, Guy Montgomery was chairman. At the 
beginning he had the idea that he would follow the 
Walter Morris Hart tradition, which was that of 
bringing the men together at dinners and evening 
gatherings, and this he did a little of. But his 
wife, who was an extraordinary and difficult woman, 
was a perfectionist. She never thought there was 
enough money to do these things in the right wayj 
whereas no one remembers the next day whether per 
fection was attained in this or that. There was 
less and less of such convening over the eleven 
years, and the department more and more separated 
from the chairman. 

My program as chairman was simple and direct. 
I remember talking to Walter Morris Hart, after 
having thought about It a good deal, and coming to 
the conclusion that it would be very important for 
the restoration of morale, which had disintegrated 
in the department, to do several things at once. 
One was to work hard for salary increases, because 
for a decade nothing had been done about that. 
Some of the people were on their way to world 
reputation, men like Bronson, young as he then was. 
Others were of the greatest promise, like Miles or 
Bertrand Evans, and nothing had been done about 

A second thing was to show something that could 
almost be called personal relish in enjoyment of the 
man. This could easily be achieved bit by bit, if 
you asked somebody or two people to lunch, as I 
began doing at once, and talking to them about their 
projects and why they had not gone ahead with them. 
(They had lost courage, and ambition in two or three 
cases. ) 


Lehman* But the great thing was to have everybody know 
everybody else. I had a decent house In Tamalpals 
Road, and, until the war came, good staff, but the 
Japanese who took care of me were taken out of the 
state. At that point a young Negro, who had been 
Langston Hughes secretary and who came to work for 
me when Hughes went back East, as private secretary 
in the evenings for dictating letters, etc., proved 
to be a very flexible fellow and not at all embar 
rassed about putting on a white coat and serving 
cocktails or tea. So we managed all through that 
time. I saw a great deal of my colleagues, sometimes 
in groups of six or eight or ten, and sometimes the 
whole department with their wives. In summer, when 
weather was good f we could use the house and garden 
and all forty or fifty people could be there. 

Riess: So you gradually took this on over those years 

without it being a bad situation with Montgomery. 

Lehman: I think both he and she were hurt at first. I remember 
that after a cocktail party at which at the last 
moment she was ill and they could not come, it was 
obvious that although he was my good friend and I 
was fond of her, they could not face it, or psycho 
logically unconsciously could not. 

A couple of days later she called up and said, 
"I heard about the party and I Just want to tell 
you that it won t be appreciated. The department 
never appreciates anything." She had got to that 
point. She went on, slightly embittered always. She 
was a very ambitious woman, older than he, eight or 
nine years older I think, a very beautiful, very 
Irish, very vivid, small woman who survived him and 
went to live at the Women s City Club, where she 
died about three years ago close to ninety. She 
survived him by a dozen years. She was almost a 
character out of Proust; it would take three hours 
to give a sketch of her and much more time to give 
a proper account. 

I went in as chairman. You had things to do; 
you put one foot in front of another; It s obvious 
where the foot has to go down if you are not walking 
backwards . 

Riess: Were there other people actively interested in the 
department as an institution? 


Lehman t Everybody who was a member of It was Interested In 
it, but It Is the business of the chairman of a 
department to foster its enlargement, its progress, 
its distinction and the rewards of progress and 
distinction. This is his Job. 

I was interested then in that special way when 
the Job was mine, eager to bring the best talent, 
to see the possibilities of Josephine Miles, for 
example, and to press for the opportunity for so 
physically limited a woman to use her brain for our 
good; to encourage Evans and others; to bring in 
people like Schorer, Raleigh, and Muscatine. Prom 
a list of 160 people each year, or 130 one year, or 
90 another, you pick out 20 or 25 that you want to 
talk to and then pick out the two or three that you 
bring. These are the Schorers, the Ralelghs, the 
Muscatlnes. ... 

Another vital thing Is not to let the good ones 
get away. Johns Hopkins offered Bronson a marvelous 
post, and I finally got the President to agree to 
come through with what it took to keep him. Columbia 
offered a post to George Stewart, who was in those 
days at the top of Storm repute and not particularly 
a scholar but an eager and active intelligence, full 
of projects and very stimulating to the group. I 
do not know whether he would have gone at all, but 
to meet this kind of thing is what the chairmanship 
consisted of. 

The chairman had to see that the courses were 
recreated after a decade or a dozen years, so that 
these people thought that they were teaching in the 
way that was the best way for them. Instead of the 
old Shakespeare course, which Durham, Whlpule, young 
Bronson, young Cline had developed, we put In a 
different kind of Junior course and a different kind 
of senior course, not because !_ wanted them, but 
because they wanted them, and they ought to be 
allowed to work in their own ways. I believed then 
and I still believe that if a department does not 
work out and develop its curricula in ways that 
use the enthusiasm as well as the gifts of the members 
of the department, the whole thing will go dead. In 
spite of the fact that you have a set course planned 
twenty years back, an excellent course for those 
people, when you close the classroom doors, the 

Lehman: instructor does as he likes, or as he must, his 
temperament being what it is. So we made new 
courses, but not I, they, on the principle that I 
lived by that their natural way of doing things 
would be the vital way. 

fliess: Are not chairmanships now rotating, as if it is a 
mere function that someone can do for a few years, 
then someone else can take over? It seems to me 
that you really have to want to do it. 

Lehman: That Is what we did. Everything that I wanted to do 
was essentially done in three years, and I said, 
"Now it s over." I was besought to stay on another 
year, and another, and perhaps a sixth. If the 
thing is well-done, llvingly done, by the people of 
the department as well as by the chairman, then there 
is a momentum. The chairman is not Just an admin 
istrative officer in the sense that he sees that 
the salary checks go out on time, because that is 
done somewhere else, or that the letters get answered, 
He has to have some long-range vision. The men who 
followed me went on making a personal contribution 
but carrying the department s programs forward with 
out violence to anything I had done. 

I was elected, when I retired from the chairman 
ship, to the advisory committee of the next chairman, 
Parnham. I served there for a year, thinking ques 
tions would come up that my experience might be 
brought to bear upon. The next year it occurred to 
me Just before the election of the advisory committee 
to the chairman, which I myself had instituted as 
a way of keeping in touch with the department s mind, 
that I was "done," and I would take the dead hand 
off. If the chairman ever wants to consult the 
preceding chairman, he can drop in. So I said to 
five or six people, "This is the way I feel about 
it. I hope you won t vote for me even if you had 
intended to. I would like to drop out of that 
function." And I did. 

Riess: What do you think the social function of the chair 
man is presently? 

Lehman* The department is so large. There never were any 
funds available in my day to the chairman to draw 
down $100 for liquor for a cocktail party. It was 


Lehman: unheard of. You could take It off the income tax 
as entertaining necessary to your position, but 
there were no allowances. Now there are, and there 
is a big party usually given in one of the clubhouses 
near the campus. The result of this is that some 
people meet other people, but you cannot see to it 
that everyone does. 

I could, in those other days, say to Professor 
X or Associate Professor Y, "Take So-and-So in tow 
and see that he meets everybody" or, "Take So-and-So 
and his wife." I could say to a wife of a colleague, 
onoe to Mrs. George Stewart, "I ve set this for ^:30, 
but someone has got to get them out of my house. I m 
alone and I have no wife here to run things. Some 
body has got to get them out of my house by 7:00. 
You re it." So Ted Stewart rounded up the three or 
four laggards and said, "Finish your drinks and go. 
This man has to have dinner; he s exhausted." So, 
with a gaiety, they were gone. 

It is all different now. This is a mob. I 
don t know how it s done or what ideas I would have 
If I were confronted with the thing. In your seventies 
you do not think of enormous parties unless you get 
the quartet in, or the quintet or the trio, and fill 
two hours, and that is another kind of thing. 

Riess: Perhaps such things as the retirement dinners are 
not needed anymore. 

Lehman: They say it is hard to manage, but they did have 

one, in order to take stock. I have no idea how it 
went. I can only speak of the value they had then, 
which I am sure was great value. When I was invited 
back to Harvard in 1928, it was the sense of the 
department as a whole with Walter Morris Hart up 
there on public occasions expressing the quality of 
the group, as much as the California climate and my 
commitment to riding over the highways [laughter], 
that made me, without hesitation at all, say, "I m 

Riess When you came into the chairmanship did you have a 
postwar staffing problem? 

Lehman: Getting staff then was very, very difficult, but not 

as hopeless as it looked at first because John Jordan, 


Lehman: Travis Bogard, Muscatlne, John Raleigh, Mark Sohorer 
all came in those years. We had to bring every year 
a lot of makeshifts, and anyone who went over the 
rosters would see that we often had to bring eight 
or nine in, only one or two of whom would be a 
Raleigh or a Muscatine, and let some of them go the 
next year and some the second year, and some after 
four years. We were always replacing and waiting 
until the man that we had talked with and esteemed 
or that I was strong for would be ready and had 
finished his dissertation. 

Riess: How were these short-term faculty, or these possi 
bilities, helped and brought out? Once they got 
into the department were they given contact and 
encouragement or were they expected to put on a show 
of their own? 

Lehman: We had a few people that we knew were temporary and 
they knew they were temporary. We brought them for 
a year or two, said, "Do you want to do this?" 
Some people like Carpenter, the American literature 
man, a man of large means, was living here anyway, 
and he had not much flair for teaching and he knew 
it, and he was glad to come in and try for awhile. 
If he had become a flame in the University we would 
have said, "Okay. You come in late in life (he was 
in his late forties, I think), but it doesn t matter 
in your case. The retirement allowance will not be 
very much but you are a rich man." But he did not 
take flame. The classes that he taught were interest- 
Ing in subject American literature he got plenty 
of students because of the subject as announced, and 
then people dropped out of the course. The next year 
fewer took it, perhaps half as many, so that you saw 
that Fred Carpenter was a delightful man with a 
delightful wife and not helpful. But he was a good 
man to have associated with the department. For 
years we kept him in as a research associate, to get 
him a platform, glad to have him about and he glad 
to be about and no hurt feelings. 

Sometimes people were bad teachers for complex 
and different reasons and when we let them go there 
were hard feelings. Once or twice a man was a man 
of great promise but was a disturber of morale. One 
man who is now on another campus of the University 
was of that order, two men in fact. One of these 
men went around and said, "Have you heard the senior 


Lehman: staff is meeting?" He got all the young people who 

ought to have been busy teaching, finishing UD their 
dissertations, preparing them for publication, or 
writing their essays or poems, so Jittery for two 
months while the staff was meeting to make decisions 
that I called the youn* fellow in one day. I told 
him, "Next year is your last year; though I think 
you are a man of great promise, but you are not 
going to spoil this department." So he went else 
where, and now he has been called back as a distin 
guished man, no longer worried about promotion because 
he is on the permanent staff. He is on another campus, 

Riess: That seems to be something which would happen when 
you start getting a bigger department. 

Lehman: We doubled the department and we had to have it 

larger than it later needed to be because of the post 
war bulge. We managed all right, with an enrollment 
of 22,000 or 23,000 in the University, with half the 
present staff. 

Riess: Over the years from your arrival to your departure 
after your chairmanship, the teaching load changed 
considerably, did it not? 

Lehman: Yes. We taught four courses at the beginning when 
I came here, that is four courses each semester. 
You might have two half -courses Instead of one year 
course* I got gradually drawn into the big courses. 
Durham was very successful on a large scale in 
drama, and Utter was pretty successful with the 
novel. Upon Utter s sudden and terrible death, 
Montgomery asked me to go in. I began to build that 
up, partly because I learned a lot from talking to 
Durham, and partly a different way of doing it. So 
I always had that course, and then I got saddled 
with the Bible, which was not an interest of mine. 
I had to work it up from scratch. I had read, but 
I was not ready to give lectures on it. These 
became great courses, and sometimes I stepped into 
the "Great Books" course for a semester. The work 
load, in units and in number of students, was heavy. 

There were also the writing courses, which 
were always very exigent, because I had to read a 
lot of capers. The soohomore English course, which 
I devised, consisted of writing associated with the 


Lehman: reading of great books. I taught that course all my 
time at the University off and on, although Hand 
took It over before he went to Santa Barbara, and 
Parkinson then took It over. 

Rless: When you started taking on large committee obliga 
tions, was your teaching load lightened? 

Lehman: No. I went on teaching the first year of the chair 
manship. It was only when I had both the chairmanship 
of the department and the chairmanship of the Budget 
Committee that I dropped a course. I Just did It 
all. This was easier at the time since I was not 
married. If you have any family life and want to 
give anything to It, I don t think now you can do 
that. This has occurred to me In retrospect. 

I was, from 1939 or 19^0, for a decade there, 
a free man. I did not have to save any energy for 
the family dinner table. I did not have to spend 
any of my time reporting what was going on and 
saying, "...but don t mention It." [Laughter] I 
could go home and sleep ten hours, after dinner on a 
tray, or I could go home and go right to work again 
with Blackburn, the young Negro who would come up 
and take dictation. 

During two of the war years, I was without my 
marvelous housekeeper named Emily Roos. She was a 
Scandinavian, a wonderful cook, wonderful house 
keeper, knew three or four people she could get In 
for extra help, and everything went fine. Suddenly 
she developed pernicious anemia and died within a 
few months after being hospitalized. Within a few 
weeks, a friend of mine, Mrs. Elizabeth Ellis, who 
lived in a big house up on Greenwood Terrace said, 
"Just move in here for dinner every night. If you 
are coming or not, telephone half an hour before." 
Mrs. Douglas was already living with her on a wartime 
basis. They had coalesced the household, both friends 
for nearly forty years. I would go In, have dinner, 
play a game of Oklahoma, and go home and work. 
(Oklahoma was a card game; they liked to play It to 
make a break with the evening before going into their 
reading.) Mrs. Douglas was very busy In politics 
and on the Grand Jury. 



Lehman : 

Riess : 

Lehman : 



Did you have any ideas that would have led to perhaps 
bringing more writers to the English Department and 
recomblning the practical and historical aspects of 

We thought from the beginning in Dramatic Art that 
we would make visible and audible in the theater 
the works that people read in literature courses. 
Dramatic Art supported the literary courses rather 
than the other way around. The policy was all very 
simple. I took Walter Morris Hart s dictum that a 
department of English is made up of vivid, creative 
intelligences of all sorts, everyone doing something 
that interests him; nothing one can do is irrelevant, 
because literature is the reflection of life with 
all its content. 

Was this a clear policy through Montgomery? 

No. Montgomery had no policy except not to spend 

In what ways did you make this kind of thing work? 

I tried to Implement the policy by trying to find 
people who seemed to have something to say, who had 
refreshing, if not fresh, interests, and to develop 
the conditions in which they could do their work 
both in the classroom and with a blank page before 
them. I tried to reward excellence of all kinds, 
so that, summarized, it is all kinds of people doing 
all kinds of things and doing them well and being 

Evidently people could get to see you, 
Sproul-like quality about you. 

There was no 

There was never any problem about that. I was In 
the office a great deal. Appointments could be 
made easily. You met people in the hall; they 
raised a question; you said, "Come in and let s talk 
about it." I was not entirely dependent, because I 
had a private secretary, on the small department 
staff who left at five o clock. 

In the Budget Committee I had a marvelously 
flexible assistant in Miss Nora Moylan, one of the 


Lehman: greatest servants the University has ever had. It 

did not matter to her if you said, "How about meeting 
at 6:^5 tomorrow morning," or "How about getting 
together tonight after dinner at 8:15." I could do 
the same thing with Blackburn two nights a week. 

If I saw somebody who had a matter to take up, 
less often a matter of policy, more often a matter 
of what his own personal situation was or what he 
wanted to do or why he wanted to give up one course 
and take on another, if I met such a person in the 
hall who said he would like to talk this over with 
me, I could say, "Do it now," if I did not have a 
specific appointment. The people in the office 
knew what hours I had to go to Budget Committee 
first and later to University Welfare or Educational 
Policy. These were all set and they had the schedule. 
I always gave them that at once, so that they could 
say, "You can t see him during these hours, he ll 
be in meeting." 

Riess: Did department committees do a good deal of the work 
or did you find it coming back to you? 

Lehman: No. We had committees studying shifts in curricula, 
representing all points of view. We had a committee 
on graduate studies; we had a committee on the 
master s oral; we had the committees doing the 
chores. Essential policy often arose in the mind 
of one member of the faculty, who made a recommenda 
tion to the chairman, who took it before the 
department advisory committee so that he would have 
all points of view, which would say, "All right, 
we ll do it," or "We ll only do it up to this point." 

A great part in those years I do not want to 
stress it too much, but it is still a fact was 
recognition, status recognition: associate professor 
instead of assistant, or professor instead of associate, 
or to move out above the top salary scale. A great 
part of It was status, and that very often, if not 
always, involved salary. 

Riess: The most important function of the chairman seems 
really to be in touch right down to the bottom. I 
don t see how rotating people coming in for three 
years can achieve this. It seems to be a soecial 
skill that not everybody would have. 


Lehman: The chairman has lived with these people. The 

people In a department when you are chairman fall 
Into two groups: those you have lived with for 
some years already, sometimes the whole of your 
time on the campus Ben Kurtz, for Instance, had 
been there when I got thereand those that you 
have brought in, so that you know them too. 

Mr. and Mrs. Muscatine, after I had had a 
brief talk with him, came to dine with me in the 
inn in New Haven and we suent the evening together. 
You can see from the Muscatine Report what a treasure 
that was. 

I had a long Interview with Schorer in a hotel 
in Boston and made up my mind that if we could pry 
him away from Harvard, we would take him. We had 
only an associate professorship to offer on the 
budget, but I was ready to fight for more. I wanted 
to meet his wife. Before I got around to suggesting 
that perhaps he bring her in for tea or a cocktail, 
he suggested it. Then I saw that you could not do 
better than that. So he came, for one year as 
associate professor, then professor, and there he 
is. He became chairman; he became as distinguished 
as any man In the University. 

Riess: What about the wife? Somehow meeting his wife 
should not be relevant. 

Lehman: In an ideal world it would not be relevant. In a 
practical work it has a certain relevance. If the 
man you are getting is a top man in Anglo-Saxon or 
linguistics or whatever, who will teach that subject, 
yet his personality you foresee will never lead him 
into a leadership position, say the chairmanship or 
a deanship, as Muscatine and Schorer have, then you 
do not have to bother about the wife. 

But if you talk to Schorer for an hour and a 
half, one of the things about this guy is he s a 
future chairman. In his case his wife matters. You 
might say, after you have met her, "She ll never be 
a chairman s wife, but he s worth it anyway even if 
he never becomes chairman, and she may keep him from 
becoming chairman. 11 However, in the Schojrers case, 
everything was floating off into the empyrean; it was 
perfect. In the same way Doris Muscatine had obvious 


Lehman: aptitudes, all to the good. 

The three year stint, or the five in my case, 
is a time you spend as the responsible administrator 
and the leader of a group, most of whom at any given 
moment you have lived with for some years, some of 
them for all your years in the institution, and 
those you have brought. When you make a mistake 
you correct it as quickly as possible by getting 
rid of a man, particularly if you have another 
promising one on the horizon to put in place. It 
sounds a little hard, and there were, of course, 
edges of hardness, brutality even sometimes, but 
what can you do? You have to do it that way. It 
means, sometimes that people must be sent away. 

"...a tribute to Lehman.... Prom 19^4 to 19^9, 
a period which was crowded with both problems and 
opportunities, he directed our activities, both 
officially and. actually. He held a high conception 
of the duties both of an English department and of 
its chairman, and by his devotion to these ideals he 
stimulated and swayed not only his colleagues but 
also the University as a whole, including the 
administration, so that there came to be meaning to 
the phrase, as applied to the Department Spearhead 
of the Humanities. He accepted change, and others 
ideas of what change should be, always with the 
larger end in view. With a touch of genius he learned 
to draw, for the public good, upon the capacities 
not only of those who naturally thought as he did, 
but also of those who might have formed an opposi 
tion. Though he did not, if my memory serves, coin 
the "window-on-the-sea" phrase, he made it so much 
his own that people associate it with him especially." 

PP 3^ 35 of The Department of English, by George 
Stewart, U.C. Press, 1968. 





Lehman : 


What kind of writing were you doing after The Lordly 
Ones? Were you writing fiction or making any attempts 
to find time for that? 

No, not attempts, 

I wrote stories when I needed 

Where did you publish? 

That subject is absolutely out. I knew how to do 
it and I did it, that s all. Then, when the proper 
people died and I no longer needed money, I stopped 
doing it. An inheritance is what happened. 

Were you writing under a pseudonym then for the 

Lehman: Yes, several, but that did not last long. 

Then I went ahead with other writing and the 
most important things I did were things like the 
essay on Tristram Shandy, "Of Time, Personality, 
and the Author." Nobody publishes a book on 
Tristram Shandy now without listing this in what s 
quoted. This was a new way of looking at novels. 
There was the Wuthering Heights essay. 

Now, at this moment, Miss Rebec [Bancroft 
Library staff member] is looking at the manuscripts 
of essays I wrote on graduate study. The English 
Department had very few graduate students. We had 
no axis, we had people who were great scholars, but 
students did not come. We had to think about all 
that. And before the graduate conference every 
year, I read an essay on various things, such as 
the nature of graduate study. I never published 
these things; I never offered them for publication, 
but they are there, and they did something. I 
went in right away (one year I appeared twice), with 
considered statements. I read from the longhand 
manuscripts; I did not even bother to have them 


Lehman: Sometimes I broke Into small new areas where 
again I did not publish, although I published on 
comedy, which was a Gayley Lecture, and on the novel 
and some other matters. I wrote an essay, for 
Instance, and read it to one of the faculty clubs, 
the Odd Volumes Club perhaps, called "The Title as 
Form." I was Interested in form in fiction. "Of 
Time, Personality and the Author" is the title of the 
essay on Tristram Shandy, and there Is a similar title 
for the Wuthering Heights essay, which is in the volume 
written by my graduate students called The Image of 
the Work. 

And there was room left for other things. I 
went to the President and got a very large sum, 
altogether more than $35*000, for the publication 
of Potter s edition of Donne s Sermons, although 
Potter died before it was done, which the University 
Press published. 

Though ultimately the Princeton University 
Press and one of the national agencies dug up the 
money, we were assured of the money within the 
University for Bronson s volumes on the ballad tunes, 
which is Just now being completed. 

All of these things had to do with the nature 
of graduate study and faculty study. I stopped 
writing under my own name because It seemed that 
everything I wanted had been achieved; I wanted to 
know this world of people who came and went through 
the node in San Francisco and at Montalvo. 

Rless: Your comments on fiction writing come as a revelation. 
I assumed that you enjoyed writing novels and stories. 

Lehman: I never had any illusion about them. I knew that 
they were traditional. I did it because I thought 
about them | they were in my head, and one morning 
I sat down and began to write them. The story in 
Harper s, called "Sons," I wrote when I was in 
graduate school. When my first son was born, some 
things happened which I could abstract and make into 
a story. Harper s paid $600 for it, and $600 was 
plenty of money in 1920 or 1922. After that I Just 
thought it would be nice to see if I could breathe 
long enough to write 300-page stories, so I did. 







I have never been interested In writing as such 
to the exclusion of anything else, or administering 
as such, or teaching as such. They all seem to be 
part of a complicated business called living. I 
moved from one thing to another and never regret it. 

If you have something to express you would as soon 
talk to someone about it as write it. 

Yes, I don t feel that I have to get it in print. 
You talk to somebody across the dinner table and 
you explore this idea and it slips in the IBM machine 
of the mind back down into storage. Another day you 
talk to a class and another day you talk to a group 
of colleagues or graduate students and colleagues. 
Sometimes you write it down and sometimes you do 
not. If you write it down, you probably do not 
bother to send it off to press, although many of 
my colleagues did. 

When I became chairman, I was always egging 
them on, "Print it, print it, print It." That was 
partly because I felt it had a larger relevance than 
the local relevance and partly because I always 
liked to have grounds for saying, "We ought to give 
this man another raise." I was Justifying some 
ultimate recognitions of a financial kind. 

I never had the idea that I wanted to be a 
writer. I thought I could write, and I did write. 
I thought I could publish, and I did, but I did 
not care whether I did, and I do not now. There 
was a certain amount of flexibility and no overriding 
sense of deep learning as a condition for decent 

But it was useful to be introduced as "Benjamin 
Lehman, who wrote so-and-so?" 

I suppose it was, but not useful to me in any 
personal way. It opened things up. If I had not 
published, I would not, through Gertrude Atherton 
and the PEN Club, have met all the people that I 
did, and these people interested me enormously. 

I found, and I still find, talking to certain 
kinds of intelligences, when those Intelligences 
are served by certain kinds of sensibility and 


Lehman: temperament, enormously fascinating. I continue 
now, in my late seventies, a lifetime practice: 
I go to bed and I review the day. I find myself 
fixing upon some one thing in it that is full of 
meaning for me, and significance. This is what I 
always did. I would come home from any of these 
occasions in San Francisco and fix that night in 
my mind, and it would then be there for further 
reflection later. I met Hiram Johnson at a dinner 
party at the Denman s, and my thinking about that 
man and his special qualities went on for weeks, 
though he was not a literary figure. 

filess: The way you live and the quality of your life Is 
very interesting. 

Lehman: I love gardening. I love pictures, and when we 

sold the Tamalpais Road house. I was astonished at 
how many I had. There were 64 framed things, 
including a signed Rembrandt etching, a Dttrer, a 
Pissaro drawing, any number of things of that order, 
some good paintings. What I am trying to say is 
that all of this was Just as much part of life as 
the other. 

Riess: That is what you have said that I feel is an 
Important thing. You were not working toward 
particular goals all along. 

Lehman: In the earlier years I broke out of all patterns 
and went to Europe. I was here two years at the 
University and I did not have a sabbatical coming, 
but I decided I would go to Europe for fifteen 
months and see whether I wanted to go on teaching. 
Maybe I wanted to write (and I did write while we 
travelled about in Europe). With comparatively 
slight resources we packed up, took our two-year old, 
went to Europe, found a governess, and lived in 
Europe. I came back for a year, and I still was not 
sure after six months of that school year, so I asked 
for another leave. I went to Europe again for eight 
months, because you can write anywhere. Then I 
discovered I did not really care whether I wrote 
or not. 

Riess: It sounds like security of Job and income was not 
a problem. 


Lehman: I think I had a kind of brassy conviction that I 
oould earn a living even if I had no resources. 

Then my son s mother, my first wife, had a 
great passion to use her very great aptitude to get 
into the writing side of motion pictures. A remote 
kinsman of mine, Carl Laemmle, a second cousin of 
my mother s, consented to see us and took her on as 
a reader of stories to see if they had anything in 
them. She ended up with a fabulously successful 
career as a writer for the movies. That made a 
difficulty because she oould only write for movies 
in Los Angeles. I went down one summer session to 
UCLA, as well as three other months in a term when 
I took off from up here, to see whether I oould bear 
Los Angeles, but I couldn t. [Laughter] We decided 
we would have a commute marriage and we tried that 
for a couple of years. It did not work, so finally 
we got divorced. 

After a decade I married Judith Anderson because 
that was another Interest of mine, the felt theater. 
I had known her for ten years and seen a great deal 
of her. That did not work because that was another 
commute marriage. She had to be In London and New 
York, and I was stuck with my routine. But it was 

Bless i That would seem to have been predictable. 

Lehman i I don t suppose I thought so. I suppose I thought 

so in the decade that we didn t marry, and then when 
we did I must have thought that it was not predictable. 
In any case, this all illustrates the variety of 
promptings and explorations. 

Riessi Could you explain about your family? 

Lehman: I had two sons, one of whom died in 1920, a few days 

after birth. (I think the HH factor was responsible.) 
Hal, the first boy, was born in Boston in 1918 while 
I was in graduate school. He married rather late, 
after the war, in his thirties. He has now a sixteen- 
year-old, six-foot son, and a daughter, who is an 
enchantress, of seven. 

George Hand came to live with us when Hal s 
mother went south. Her career in the movies meant 


Lehman* she oould not take Hal with her, and I was very gled 
to have him. We lived at Marion Parsons , but there 
was a problem there. What does the town say? Mrs. 
Lehman is away eleven months out of a year, and 
here s Lehman living with Marlon Parsons, who is a 
notable widow, up in Mosswood Road. True, he has 
his boy there.... 

I talked It over with Walter Morris Hart. 
(These were other days; nowadays I think no one 
would think about It.) He said, "Well, there have 
been protests or questions asked here, and I advise 
you to have someone come and live In the establish 
ment." It was already in my mind that there ought to 
be an older brother around. Around 192? or 1928 I 
asked a very gifted freshman, who Is now a professor 
at UC at Santa Barbara, to come and live with us and 
be tutor and take Hal on expeditions on Sunday, etc. 
I always thought of him as a member of the family, 
sort of a son, but not in the sense that you make 
provision for them in your will. 

Much later, during the war, a friend of mine 
from the south, Eleanor Walker, asked me to keep an 
eye on her boy who was up here In the B-12 unit, Navy 
pre-medlcal business. He was a very gifted fellow, 
but awfully touchy and edgy; she said I could expect 
any kind of breakdown and to keep an eye on him. He 
was under naval military control there, at Inter 
national House. He would come up sometimes on weekends, 
always drop up for an hour when he oould, and I let 
him blow off steam. Then he married one of the most 
wonderful girls ever, very young. They have six 
children, one of whom Is my namesake, and they are 
really a delight. He Just telephoned the other day. 
He is on his way back from Bar Harbor, where he had 
been working In a laboratory. He is a research 
professor at John Hopkins. They are bringing the 
whole family down in two cars, his six children, 
two nieces and a nephew, eleven of them coming home 
to Baltimore, where they crowd into a very small house. 
I always think of him as adopted too. He keeps in 
close touch, and his wife is just absolutely adorable. 
She Is a girl from here of Portuguese blood, named 
Booha. He was out here at a medical meeting a month 
ago and came down for a good visit. 


mess: I have felt the presence as I have visited you of 

more and more family in the background. [Laughing] 
There is all kinds of evidence of their being 
around and about* 

Lehman: My stepchildren are marvelous, Mrs, Lehman s children, 
They are all Goodrich -born, by her first husband, 
of the New England families of Noah Webster and 
Chauncey Goodrich. That is their blood; it has 
nothing to do with mine. One of Mrs. Lehman s 
children, a son, is professor of Chinese at UC, 
Santa Barbara. He came home to that Job from being 
a professor at Cambridge University, England. They 
have been by here a couple of times this summer. 
They left their two youngest sons, who are the most 
beguiling human beings ever, 9-1/2 and 11, and Just 
wonderful. The eleven-year-old is the best Scrabble 
player I ever ran into. He can figure three words 
ahead. I never knew anybody who could do it. He 
wins almost every game. Three times out of four he 
piles up a score of 450. It s mathematics for him. 
The kind of gift that a very young person can have 
in mathematics he has in words. 

Rless: This must be a perfect place to visit. 

Lehman: We have fun. We have a temperamental as well as 

intentional bias in favor of children s conversation 
at meals, not ours. I loathe It, when you have 
children sitting around a table and they boringly 
endure what grownups talk about. So we start there. 
Sometimes it Is hilarious. 

Riess: This must be one of the most notable things about 

you; because you have never been rushing toward any 
particular goals, you are always open to listen 
to others. 

Lehman: What else can you do? You put one foot In front of 
another. I have known people who ruthlessly barged 
through to a dream goal and kicked things around on 
the way. I never thought that would be very much 
fun. I never thought of it for myself, and I never 
could see how it was very much fun for others. 

You take life as It is. [Laughing] You let 
down your buckets where you are. There is a story 


Lehman: by Booker T. Washington that he used to tell when he 
was addressing Negro and mixed audiences about the 
eduoatlon of the Negro. (Of course. he was an Unole 
Tom from the present point of view.) He said to 
them, "Do the thing that Is next." He gave as an 
Illustration seamen becalmed In a ship In the South 
Atlantic running out of fresh water. When they were 
all desperate, another boat came within sight. They 
signalled, "Send us water or we die." The semaphore 
wigwagged back, "Let down your buckets where you 
are. You re In the mouth of the Amazon." I always 
thought that was a life philosophy for a white man 
as well as for a Negro. 

Of course, I was brought up on Thomas Carlyle. 
He said, "Do the duty which lies nearest thee; thy 
next duty will already have become clear to you." 
I really believed that always. Duty In this case 
means activity. 



Rless: Do you think that your statement defining the Image 
of the work* could be paralleled by a statement 
about what we re trying to do here concerning the 
Image of the man? Making the proper substitutions 
of "man" for "work," the statement would begin, 
"A man, with characteristic qualities and attributes 
of his own and with all his relationships delineated...." 

Lehman * I would have to think about that. For Instance It 
wouldn t be a full revelation of the man. This Is 
about me In a way, but I haven t stressed adequately, 
or filled In, what California was visually and 
ecologically to me, who was suddenly freed by an 
automobile, which I never had In Philadelphia or 
Cambridge or Idaho, freed to go places, to look, and 
suddenly discovering that there was a whole world 
of data that enhanced my sense of the ecology of 
human being and human living. 

I had never had the leisure In the East to 
observe the way in which the water beats upon the 
land. I had gone to see a storm, for instance, at 
Rockport, and I had spent a few weeks at Gloucester, 
Massachusetts, and I had been to Atlantic City, but 
I had never gone, as I did In later years, to sit 
for a whole day looking at the tide pools on the 
North Coast or, before the 1? Mile Drive was a 
universal experience, to sit out there. Or gone 
down to lie in the sun, stripped, alone on a beach 
five hundred feet down from the highway all day 
long, as I did below the Big Sur. All of this is 
part of a total being which has no place in the 
institutional life nor, indeed, is there place for 
a great many of the experiences you have with people 
as you go about the world. 

There Is not here place, although the essay on 
Tristram Shandy, for instance, would Illustrate it, 

*See p. 222 ff. 


Lehman: for saying what happens to you when you read a book 
and reflect upon It. I have not really eTer In 
my life, to my own satisfaction, defined what 
happened to me at a great concert of songs when 
the facets always change as in a diamond. The light 
changes because each lasts a minute and a half or 
three minutes, as contrasted with what happens to 
you in the incredible three hours of Tristran If 
Melohior and Flagstad are singing it. I wouldn t 
know how to put that together, and I ve only started 
now in retirement to put together what seems to me 
to have been my fun between the cradle and what is 
approaching as the end. 

[Added May 1968] You raise the question of 
whether a statement of this [manuscript] sort 
diverse, diffuse, sometimes thin, sometimes gravid 
might not stand as an image of the man in the sense 
in which, in describing the seminar disciplines, I 
spoke of the image of the work. Well, the image of 
the work has its own documentation, in a volume of 
that title, published by some of my students. And 
I think the content of the phrase "image of the 
work" is such as to make the analogy with "image of 
the man" impossible. 

First of all, the image of the work is a con 
ception In the mind of a looker-on, of a comprehender, 
of a responder, and Involves the way in which the 
work arouses responses of every kind in the area of 
thought, of feeling, of sensation. Nothing that is, 
even in the loose sense in which these pages can be 
called autobiographical, could possibly be called 
an image. It is not the image from outside here, 
it is the uneven, the irregular, the sometimes 
pleased and sometimes otherwise recollections. 

The idea In these pages so far as I had an 
idea, except to cooperate with someone else s 
Intention the idea was simply to pick up bits of 
the past as they occurred to me, to perhaps make 
here and there available an item of vividness or 
relevance to some historian who would sometime in 
the future engage himself in reporting the Image 
of the time as it struck him. 

Riesst In that case it appropriately becomes a final comment. 
Actually it wasn t a well thought-out question, but 
maybe interesting. 


Lehman t Oh, there s no reason why It shouldn t be Included. 
It s Just part of this little exercise we ve gone 
through together. [Laughter] Yes, I think It 
would Just stand that way. "Finis." 



"Three Drawings for a Portrait of Noel Sullivan," by 
William Justema, pp. 315-331 

"Death as Return," by Thomas Parkinson, pp. 332-335 
"May 23, 1956," by Josephine Miles, pp. 336-338 

The reader is also referred to the papers of Mr. Lehman 
deposited in The Bancroft Library, University of California 
at Berkeley, and to the papers of Noel Sullivan and James 
Phelan, also in The Bancroft Library. 





He is always late. The impression is that he was horn late; lost 
precious time at birth and has never quite caught up. A telephone will 
awaken him or he himself will wake very regularly at eight o clock in 
the morning. The day may have many or few appointments: it will, 
regardless, end far behind schedule. Although luncheon may he only an 
hour delayed, dinner will certainly eat away all except the final 
minutes from theater or concert. This because he went to two widely 
separated places for tea, and finally arriving home, for the second 
time during the day bathed and shaved while cocktails waited. Midnight 
finds him keeping, besides its own, an afternoon s engagement. Then 
suddenly he goes somewhere remotely out of town to have Tuesday s 
breakfast on Wednesday. 

He knows everybody. His home is, as a result, a combination 
post-office, telephone- exchange, hotel, and florist-shop. Bells never 
cease ringing nor buds opening: a blossom to each jangle. The house, 
which is large, could easily be papered throughout with a year s 
telegrams. While this seems not to have occurred to him, what he has 
done is to bury his bedroom underneath photographs of friends. Perhaps 
he dreads being alone. These friends are almost anyone who is 
good-looking, celebrated, individual, sweet, or outcast. Contacts are 
in large part his career; new personalities and viewpoints he woos like 
a lover. The goal is seldom sexual, yet the outline is the same: 
ouriojisity is followed by pursuit, disinterest follows on satisfaction. 
In this he is only human. But in politely with infinite patience 


continuing relationships which bore him; in this he is divine. He it 
must be, however, who pursues: pursued, he grows suspicious. In this 
he is masculine. If one would intrigue him, the technique is to 
appear indifferent, a trifle condescending. In this respect he is 
feminine. With all his meeting and entertaining, being met and 
entertained* it is only at intervals that society, as such, arouses 
him. Social conquests he seems to make merely to remind himself *hat 
he can. In this he is like a child. 

He has money . Furthermore, he comes of a wealthy family and never 
has worked for a living. It is simply impossible to conceive of him 
doing so. Nor am I oonoerned with what he would be if he were different 
That he differs from his class is sufficient. Most rich people assume 
possession of things which notoriously can t be bought, whereas he 
takes nothing but money for granted. Realizing that if he wants 
anything he can buy it or something very like it, he thrashes around in 
search of ambitions money cannot realize. Persons who have to labor, 
labor much less hard* For he must create his own jobs as well as work 
at them. He invariably takes the path of most resistance and puts 
obstacles in it* Were his tasks as he planned them, good. Instead, 
the obstacles proceed of themselves to multiply until, worn out, he 
purchases their removal. Immediately of course he manufactures himself 
a new set destined like the others to test money s limitations and his 
own. There are, in fact, few values he does not examine as he examines 
his teeth and his hair. Almost as though he felt personal cleanliness 
to be the one certainty, his fastidiousness is excruciating, desperate. 
He who can afford any standard has a standard anyone can afford* What 
few illusions he insists on keeping are paid for in discarded linen. 

He seems sad. This is due, partly to his heavily shaded eyes, 
partly to his low voice and slow way of speaking. While he talks he 


periodically dies and only after a decent interval resumes the 

conversation. Egoists are oftentimes insulted; they need not be: he is 
always as preoccupied. This is the abstraotness that passes for 
sadness, a sadness which is generally considered to be deliberate. He 
has been called an emotional masochist. I think it not so much that he 
enjoys sorrow as that sorrow enjoys him, has made him its home. Quite 
naturally people believe that because he is willing to listen to their 
troubles that he gets pleasure from doing so. The pleasure he receives 
would be an esthetic one. As others use colors or numbers he uses 
human woe. He is an important mourner at the universal funeral. There 
is excellent precedent in his medium of tears; nothing especially 
contemptible about suffering. Anyway the vicarious aspect, open to 
criticism, is soon lost. A craftsman, something too expert about his 
sympathy may lead its recipients to imagine that weeping is its own 
reward. No one knows exactly what he expected. Whether or not he 
anticipated their ingratitude and his own disappointment isn t easy to 
say. I would describe him as a fatalist never completely resigned to 

He was born a Catholic . And he will be buried a Catholic. 
Meanwhile the one religion hangs like a vapor of voices around him. 
This choir is his conscience. Opposed to it is an intellectual 
consciousness he makes no attempt to curb. Neither does he try to 
merge heresy with orthodoxy but allows them to alternately take 
possession of him. Between these extremes lies his life, a life full 
of extremes. His motives, in the manner of motives, are unlike their 
result. Particularly he has a way of turning a mean impulse to pious 
account, never forgetting the unworthy origin; even wistful in regard 
to it. For goodness has become a habit with him. Also he has a 
reputation for being good. Finally, no one would believe it if he were 


not. Herein, his martyrdom. The only surcease is in the hands of 
palmists. Of fortune-tellers he asks the end to more responsibility 
than he can bear. Votive lights burn throughout his residence while in 
another part of the oity he plots against his conscience. He 
penetrates crystals; he flirts with damnation wielding a fan of tarot 
cards. But the free will controversy was settled for him at birth. 
Technicalities may engage his mature attention: his rosary by now can 
tell itself. Should he seek escape, try to jump; it would catch and 
hold him back. 

To repeat and to connect: 

I was conscious, first, of his lateness. One is. Thereafter it 
is the thing about him one notices most often. You can count on it as 
you never can on clocks; the watch isn t made that wouldn t make him 
late. A calendar, worn at the wrist, would serve him as approximately 
as any Swiss timepiece. The machine hasn t been made which will get 
him to his destination before he starts. You see him pass you all 
hours of the day dizzily hanging onto a strap his driver dividing the 
traffic as with a knife. You picture him al^ hours of the night at the 
wheel himself speeding and dozing. He rests best when in rapid motion; 
relieved, no doubt, at the thought of overtaking some task he has 
invented. Fortunately the car never entirely goes off the road into 
the ditch. He never absolutely sleeps: he is much too tired for that, 
much too busy. Throughout his dreams he runs up endless flights of 
stairs three steps at a time. He is at his friends service and has all 
but worn himself out in it. 

I next became aware of the vastness of his acquaintance; a circle 
without a language in common, with a single common understanding. 
With the rest I sanctioned his inability to be prompt by being prompt 


myself. Friends wait for him if Just to hear him say "So aorry " 

In order to do this he enters swiftly, and from holding his breath in 
running, lightly. The occasions on whioh he has been so sorry 1 would 
be greater than the words in all Shakespeare. You are starting to 
wonder how anyone oan continue to be so sorry when you feel his soft 
hand and look into his mild eyes. Then you wish that he had been later 
so that you oould have waited longer. To wait for him is all he asks 
of his friends. There is not much else they oould do. Or would be 
allowed to do. Proudly independent, his entrances alone require 
collaboration. Wait for him you oan. By waiting, you oan see him 
arrive at the last. His subsequent apology is, in effect, an apology 
for having money. 

I appreciated that his wealth afforded him privileges including 
tardiness, but I oould not at once understand why he should feel badly 
about anything so habitual. He oould afford to be late, indeed made no 
attempt not to be; and yet that was not the end of itl Explicitly : it 
was the beginning of his excellent manners. Along with him arrives 
the most superb background of its kind. Riches and breeding have 
fostered it and he encircles his circle of friends always with an 
appropriate panorama. So considerable is his glamour, so considerate 
he, that those who have oome to beg desire nothing but an opportunity 
to give. Consequently his house and mind both are over- furnished. 
Blackamoor and crucifix; St. Theresa and Kraft-Ebbing; the 
juxtapositions are beyond belief. Obviously it all adds to the 
fascination. No one except a boor ever is bored and there are plenty 
of bibelots and cigarettes for the nervous. The conversation is 
geographical; the food educated. There is music. He himself sings 
very beautifully. He likes to sing; likes fine viands; thrills to 
ideas. Still; with a perfect accompanist, a good cellar, and abundant 

320 6 

intelligent companionship; you wonder, sneaking a look at him, was 
anyone, ever, as troubled? 

I cannot as yet explain all his melancholy. His delinquency has 
been spoken of enough: he is late when he c V 3ies bj.t he is sorry. 
Assured there is no cause for sorrow, hasn t he, ultimately, landed? 
he remains, among adorers, unhappy. Like a bright bird trapped. 
At risk of being fatuous one pities him. It really is regrettable that 
his plumage is so splendid. Without money he might possibly be rade to 
feel as free as, for example, he makes those to whom he gives money. 
Or, a dependent of himself, he might io himself justice. Most 
typically, too, for humane matters interest him most. His distress as 
he paces his bedroom the hour a man is being executed is approached 
only by that of the condemned. The latter would marvel at this 
anguish, would feel cheated of his own agony. VThich, in a way, is so 
brief; that of our subject so infinite. Any barbarism ignites him like 
a rocket. He rises, he showers gold, he falls in darkness to the Bay. 
Spent, with a momentary sense of futility he floats along and there is 
music, Palestrina s. 

I can see that the Church has provided an ethical framework for 
his life. And that social training has made of the doors and windows 
attractive ways in and out. All decorations, though, together with 
some of the barriers or walls, are personal. His existence abounds in 
gestures too extravagant for religion, too unpretentious for society. 
He loves nothing better than to throw cake on the waters and not tell 
anybody about it. At these times he comes near to being gay. Secretly 
of course. He might be misunderstood if he laughed aloud when he is 
writing out cheques. Does he owe some immemorial debt that he will pay 
others for doing what is their duty, whose dispatch is ample recompense? 
His great generosity he calls mere selfishness. Is this an alibi in 


reserve against diminshing of interest? According to him, philanthropy 
is self-indulgence, a luxury he permits himself. Surely it is wise to 
oall it that. Is it, as well, cruel? Then it is cruel to be modest. 
But he not modest to be oruel. Over and above what he aays is what he 
does. And what he does is done with a swift silence and humility .rhich 
humbles the greatest. Thus do the meek inherit the earth. 

People are constantly pointing him out: a tall slight dark figure, 
elegant save that his head won t adapt to hats. In the city where he 
lives he is, at forty, already legendary. People are continually 
talking about him. The fog alone keeps his ears from bursting into 
flame. For instance, people say that he arrived at a musicale forty- 
eight hours after its conclusion; that he prefers the company of negroes 
to that of hie own race; that he is ten times a millionaire; that he 
contemplates suicide; that he "hides" in good works. People ask, 
"Aren t those ex-convicts with him in his box?" "Have you heard that 
he has an illegitimate child in France?" "Where can those tuberoses 
be?" So speculation augments fact. Not even he can separate them: 
blackmail from charity; the emeralds he has from the emeralds ie has 
not. These are minor details to a sphinx remembering its secret, or 
trying to recall it. At least I haven t heard it. I merely marvel 
and I wonder. My actual knowledge is limited to a few observations. 
I happen to know that the tuberoses are in the perfume Byzance. Also 
that whenever I have a little too much to drink I invariably want to 
die for him although how he could benefit from my death I can t imagine. 


Maoh can happen in a year and nothing be especially apparent. He 

still is late; sociable without being social; fairly wealthy; given to 


melanoholy; a Catholic. Probably the most noticeable change is in hie 
singing of which he is doing a lot before larger and larger audiences. 
These do not always gather exclusively to hear him sing and because he 
knows this he often by hie singing makes them weep. The fact that he 
is, for the first time, being vindictive, deserves detailed explanation. 

Those who said that he was waiting for his uncle to die have 
proved themselves to have been the restless ones. How can it be siid 
that he was "waiting" who never ceases to complain when people oo:.u, or 
events happen, on time? The calendar records the passing of a year, 
the hands of his timepieces are where they were a year ago. Why they 
remain thus ie now well known: they are saving for the sudden demands 
his nerves or his heart makes. Then, when there is not time, in no tims- 
at all he works the miracles for which he is famous; anything from 
catching an Express Limited to averting a suicide. This is an endless 
business; it is of the nature of trains to move and of suicides to die; 
either may be prevented but again and again. Any^one who has 
underwritten a human life knows what I mean. Trains also are 
impatient, implacable; a nephew s work is never done. It is never done 
and Death has such kind eyes, comes of a nice family, too, lovely 
people to marry into. That is, if his secretary or his secretary s 
secretary could find an open hour, a twenty- fifth one. Meanwhile the 
doorbell is ringing. From his deep bi-diurnal bath, with Just a 
suggestion of the languorous martyr he wonders sighing " fThy must people 
be so prompt?" 

All that I am writing is in answer to that question. Merely to 

say to him "3o that you can be late" would not suffice. There are 


friends and loves, acquaintances and admirers to considered and 

comprehended I was about to say "apprehended". They have their 


More recently there are debtors and creditors. They have theirs. 
The number of persons directly or indirectly kept going during the 
depression following the crash of the stock market is quite incredible 
when his wealth is compared with that of really rich men. This, 
however, is a comparison which interests few of his dependaato debtor 
or creditors, what do such distinctions, and which he always waives, 


matter now that all coyodities have disappeared leaving only luxuries 
and people whom one knows? 

These people he wilfully or inadvertantly knows are variously 
cause for happiness and, I imagine, for regret. I have to imagine the 
latter: his grace-fulness would not admit it. But the happiness comes 
first; the sincerest form of flattery. He is amused when imitator s, 
who may or may not have regular manicures, regularly burn sticks of 
incense in their bathrooms; pleased when non-Catholics attend Mass. 
Green is his favorite colour, green is favored in his friend s wardrobes 
also. They prefer old music just as he does. And where they live you 
may find a similar mingling of odors floral and canine because in his 
great house there happens to be for every bottle of costly imported 
perfume a pedigreed dog who needs the same. A new blend, you will 
grant me, and difficult to balance; himself alone manages such to 
perfection: to many others his contagious taste is a desired and dread 
infection not easily got rid of. His notions inhabit one like opium. 
Thus, without intending to do it he makes sycophants who do not realize 
they are sycophants until they discover their fellows in a familiar 
adopted attitude. An aversion to flying or addiction to southern 
cooking can reveal the segments of his circle to each other. Then a 
pause for thought ensues: not a very long one. Hie coterie is full of 
object-lessons which he charmingly prevents its members from learning. 
To learn might be to leave. Well, and what is geography? one ie 


even more devoted at a distance. None of his hundred-odd most intimate 

|*1* ~<U 

need have courage: the appearance of independence is enough. Everybody 
knows better. So everyone who knows that source of financial and 
emotional uounty dispenses it in the style to which he is accustomed. 
Nothing is too good for the friends of the friends of his friends. 

As a friend he is baffling. lie allows the greatest latitude and 
gives the minimum amount of attention. Lying in hiding to pounce on 
him between his Italian and German lessons one goes over all one 1 -is to 
say to him, later continuing in sleep any conversation one has had. 
Consequently one is never quite sure what one has or has not said, and 

worries Here is the ideal father confessor and here I have 

forgotten what I had to confess! Eventually, of course, I will 
remember and write it. Since, of course, one must tell him everything. 
This means he brings to the role of confessor knowledge he could not 
get from the Church alone. It means as well that he need not leave the 
Church in order to satisfy his curio^sity anymore than a priest would, 
should he have curiosity. You will agree that the position is 
strategic, magic. He receives the kudos of a movie star and yet his 
only performances have been concerts of song. 

I have a theory to explain more than mere practice the increasing 
beauty of his singing. His music, now that he has been made richer and 

more exasperated, improves daily and with every tenth preposterous 

demand for a contribution to found this or support that. It would 
seem as though he already had enough, too many, interests; nearly 
everyone who knows of him has other marvelous ideas of how to spend his 
income and hardly anyone misses an opportunity for telling him. Yet 
presumption alone does not make him mad. Too often it is coupled with 
an affront to those or to what he loves. Acceptable or not, his 
position is well stated; nothing infuriates him like imbecility; never 

so articulate as when furious, the priveleed few who have 8een 



anger have a glimmer of what divine wrath is like: oompassion become 
intolerable, wreaking vengeance on itself. A dreadful happening but 
one which has, evidently, a tonic effect on the singing voice. 


This is the way I see it: I will be waiting, not for the first 
time, for my patron. And he will be late. And he will be the rest of 
it. It will be Christinas Day which is also his birthday (how much 
this seems to explain!) I will be in the music-room almost at the top 
of his house watching the white fog drive past the large windows in, in, 
from the sea. Except for the crackling logs there will, really, be no 
sound. But, seeming to hear him sing; seeming to see him at the s. oall 
(*tf.yA*vm_ key piano by his bed ln hi8 bedroom with the right knee or. 
the piano-bench and the right hand running over even before he comes 
upstairs (although I have been waiting two hours) some song just 
acquired: I will without actually glancing into the mirror or 
reaching for the proper book somehow prepare my face and mind to 
greet, or rather, to be greeted by him who is presently coming. 

He will not come that soon. As I might have known, seeing when I 
arrived the gifts piled high in his room and overflowing into many 
other rooms. These gifts of potted hyacinths, of poinsettias, and the 
great white packages, and the little bright packages, will further 
retard him. He may, I know, not open any of the presents for days, nor 
even read the cards but he will put a long hand with fingers curved 
to his mouth and stand quiet and dark-looking in the center of the room 
regarding them and drawing from them the inspiration for more purchases 
and more cablegrams of his own sending. And while I listen to the far 
murmur of his telephoning like a river deep and sweet and 
inexhaustible I will realize anew that we, his friends, live each of 


ua at the end of a labyrinth composed of all his other friends. (Let 
ue follow out this metaphor.) 

We are, then, monster 8 waiting to devour what we can of the heart 
and brain of this personable Theseus of Irish extraction. That it is 
ourselves, not him, who will be overpowered, we, knowing the (Grecian) 
legend, know beforehand. And who jja being masochistic now? 

It all depends, I suppose, on the point of view. Although it is 
impossible to think of this man as "bull-like 11 it is easy enough, for 
our purpose, to think of him (secretive, secreted, secret) as the 
Minotaur. I know of some who so think of him; who blame their special 
kind of death to having been close to him! (And with all that fatuously 


implies of intimacy.) But in thinking of this man with the heart-shaped, 
face as a human minotaur eclectic unto rapaoiousness, and thereafter 
rather distant as a gentleman must be with a dead thing- think of the 
eagerness with which you approached the labyrinth. You knew who livgd 
in that house else you would not have gone there full of ouriousity and 
hoping to make an impression. Ho, I think it must be we who are the 
beasts and he the prey: as all men with the reputation for charm and 
generosity must be the prey of those with the reputation or opportunity 
for less. And of course it is a death-struggle because all social 
intercourse is thatwith failure to interest: the death-dealing blow. 

I do not mean that the struggle is always obvious. One seldom 
prepares what one is going to say or do in order to get attention. One 
may even deliberately think of nothing in order, shall I say? to be oneV 
"own" self. Yet even with the most unnaturally unprepared I feel that 
there is always the hope with this man more than with the other men one 
meets: that he will findJsomething in or of your own, a quality or an 
idea to seize on. It will seem to you so extremely important that you 


register on hie consciousness that you will go to almost any length to 
do so. For example, you might plan to have him discover you weeping 
as young girls plan to have their fiances surprise them while they are 
playing a musical instrument. (Except that your tears would be dried 
up by the time he arrived*) Or you might send him six dozen Madam-j 
Pirnay roses. (If you were certain the house was not already full of 
them.) Or you might after considerate maneuvring arrange to tell him 
tete et tte some evening how gifted you had always thought him and 
incidentally how talented you were, too if only by virtue of 
recognition. (At which large moment in your life he would be quite 
likely to go to sleep!) To your immense confusion you would see his 
head sink lower and lower on his chest: your monologue, his lullaby.... 
And thus would Theseus slip from you triumphant in sleep, 
accomplishing one more victory without violence. While, if you knew, 
in other parts of the labyrinth you might see and hear all the 
ICinotaurs who were there before you stamping, now, and snorting. 
They know about the thread. The thread? 

When Theseus had slain the Minotaur he escaped from the labyrinth 
by following a thread he had cautiously left behind him. Otherwise he 
would never have been able to extricate himself. Headstrong and 
unthinking (i. e. "heroic") as he was he trailed a thread of gold 

te^fr*rp* h; money lined his path Well, those days are gone. In 

his present reduced financial situation he can leave of golden threads 
only the thinnest, liable to break when needed most. 

The thought makes him uncommonly happy. I do not mean the heotio 
happiness said to be common among people who have always been rich and 
and who, now that they are not continue to behave as though they were 
because they "might as well, it couldn t possibly be worse". Hor do I 
mean the rather nervous happiness the once-rich of another sort are 


said to be finding in their new aimplioity. My friend IB living 
neither lavishly nor yet simply. (For instance there is still 
champagne at dinner parties, but there are fewer dinner parties.) No, 
his happiness Is what must be the happiness of a prophet who lives tc 
find his prophecies fulfilled. Not that by writing or by word of 
mouth he predicted the crash that occurred. But certainly it bears 
out his whole temperament to perfection. The speculation (which in him 
takes the form of probing into the nature of things). The collapse 
(inevitaoe, of all except the very nature of things themselves I. The 
aftermath (in effect: "my nature told me so"). That is, when he says 

"Life is a trap " he knows, I believe, pretty much how the trap works. 

How else explain a certain melancholy pleasure he finds in it? The 
law of retribution is his special toy; the random workings, too, bring 
him a kind of satisfaction however sad. And now that, this year even 
more than last, there is no money with which to modify the machinery: 
the values, the ways of existence must be revealed to him -implacable 
as he has always felt they were. By his keen sense of hopelessness he 
might have invented irony. If "the revolution" he sometimes thinks 
imminent does occur, he will write out his last cheque (a cheque teo 
heapMJoals of fire) with something like a sigh of relief. The more 
interesting pursuits of aristocracy are often impeded by money. 

There will always be rank injustice to engage him. From what I 
know of the Church it is a clumsy body compared with his own which 
long ago left the narrow religious field for the wider fields of 
practical ethics. The decisions of this more- than- legal Judge are 
being accepted as were his philanthropies. An example: he condemns the 
cocktail-party on the moral grounds that it robs an evening of its 
finer music. But although he is guitly of expecting others to share 
his enthusiasms (and this "thoughtlessness" may be his fee, pure ar_d 

simple ) he, above everyone, could give the perfect tutorage for 


meeting the world. (And this despite and because of hie own 
misadventures . ) 

With his glamour, his elegance, his wit, his tenderness; oourage, 
diploaiacy; yes, and his sorrows - all women must weep that ho ie no v , 
their lover. (Well, Rome?) 

If ever I achieve a commendable signature it will be largely 
because this man was my friend during the years that the most 
experiences in kind and number were presented to my consciousness. I 
shudder, now, at thought of what I with my particular set of tendencies 
and appetites might have become under the influence of someone less 
civilized. And I know what it is to wake up in a horrible sweat of 
fear from dreaming that I have said or done one of the few 


such as act insultingly to a lady or kick at a dog which would anger 
him ( drunkeness alone would not). At the same time, I admit that 
there is oftentimes in his presence a temptation to commit the 
unpardonable if only as a protest against the tyranny of the just. But 
even this he would understand. There is no escaping his forgiveness. 

And so I know that he will forgive the indescretions of these 
"drawings" and understand that he set the precedent for them by his 
own habit of continually giving credit to the persons responsible for 
his own education. (A certain woman he credits with having given him 
the direct habits of though? which offset his natural dialectic. A 
certain man he credits with much of his vocabulary. Another man has 
offered him - as a peach on a platter minute descriptions of physical 
sensations he otherwise would have missed; another woman has 
represented an inviolable way of living.) His speech is full of credit 
lines and I, too, would like to give him something but - 

To speak properly: there is, at present, nothing that one has that 


one can give him. He has or he is everything. On the other hard it 

seems that one has to give or to allow him everything. I mean that 
he demonstrates the paradox. He himself, (as he would be the first to 
say) is nothing; so completely is he self-encompassed, so completely 
does he efface himself. 

My meaning cannot be very clear here. But he is an empty cup 
constantly overflowing. This emptiness (overflowing as it does) is in 
no way alarming, is, indeed, the emptiness proper to a legend. I have 
said that he is already legendary. It is true. And he has the true 
modesty of heroes and their statues. I especially mention the latter 
because this man whom so many idols idolize gives off the same 
personal-impersonal impression of beauty as comes from good statues. 
He could appropriately be, and would enjoy being a bronze. The first 
for the ringing hollowness; the second, out of admiration for the Negro 

He adores Negroes. They quicken him: thoughtlessly doing many 
things that he thinks he would like to do, thoughtfully. The race is 
his alter ego. Sometimes it puts him under grave suspicion. No matter. 
None, at least, while the repressed remain vital, warming him. His 
attraction is to the helpless, enigmatic, gay and cruel; his choosing 
perfect. Luckily he will not live to see the Negro race grow up. 

Death is a dream he dreams, a reward to be deserved after a life oi 
duty. And although, in this sense, he already deserves to die, die he 
cannot yet. There is still so much to do. 

All he has to do he will do. He, who can scarcely bring himself 
to write letters will probably die writing letters. Scolding letters 
graceful letters, loving letters, letters with cheques enclosed. And 
on receipt of the last, those who love him most will say: "this is not 
due me", and those who love him less will say: "this is due me". And 



both, because of the enrichment there is in loving, will be correct. 
How clearly he sees this too. Reciprocity in love would be more than 
he could bear. Theseus would become Midas and everything too gold. 
And he would stand then, as sometimes he stands now, in a paralysis of 
amazement, grieved by the touch of his f&ft hands. 

He has said of a friend "you feel when she speaks that before 
she has spoken she has raised in her mind every possible objection to 
what she is saying". Could this be his ideal? Does he always try to 
think out the consequences of his actions? But it is unlikely that 
anyone will ever know exactly to what white degree he is conscious or 
cares to be conscious 


That is the burden of the song. And I, turning to put another log 
on the fire my friend having solved the servant problem by waiting on 
his servants will be conscious of his light step on the stair and that 
It must still be afternoon because one of the dogs would precede him if 
it were evening, as, in the morning he is preceded down his halls by 
the powdery and ungent odors of his bath. 

I prepare a smile; his is the sweetest you will ever see. 

(hand outstretched) "Hello, Billy; how are you?" 

(taking hand) "Fine. How are you, Mulhall " 

"Very well. A bit tired." 



Death as Return* 

Walking against his will a cord 

Drew him to an unfamiliar perspective 

Where all partings were greetings. 

He was received in the late 

Deceptions of choice. Mature, indifferent, 

He worked an order of being with the self 

Gone oddly thin, the center of an hour glass 

Where all grew still, each grain separate, 

The ego silent and watching, not concerned, 

Magnificent structures rising in its name. 


So late, so late. The storm of death 

Sets flying all the sand, bewildering, 

In his eyes, that sand he thought collected, 

Calm, full of its own weight. It was too much 

Its own. Each grain was willful, found 

A way back to its source. He watched 

Older than thought, whose mind had roved 

Through Adams, Macauley, Buckle, Gibbon, 

Until history put him to an attentive rest. 

Azaleas, roses, rhododendrons the drug of cultivation, 

And in his heart the women who had made all 

Possible beat against even those loving bars 

Where his affection held them. Women. His mind 

Hanged over their delicate defining being. Debts 

He could never pay, debts that left him solvent 

One hungered for Justice, one for a natural past, 

* "T. Parkinson s poem came about as follows: he sent me his 
volume Thanatos an admirable small book. I wrote (he 
was in Grenoble, Prance) saying I found everything in it, 
except Death as Return i.e., as the going upstream to 
one s beginnings as the later years diminish In number. 
His poem of which I enclose a copy encloses (in Section 
III) his view of one matter of concern... I do not know how 
you can use (this): your worry anything from a reference 
to copy in totol" B.H.L. 


And one for art. Strange, they had never wanted 
Mercy, that was granted, Indisputable. And he 
Had wanted above all the clear touch of mercy, 
What his life never allowed him to dispense. 


It is ludicrous, what we are, but what we do 

Is how we are: some lives convalesce, 

Broken Jaws reading Coleridge, perpetual 

Recovery from illness uncaused, dreams 

Propped on books, gestures of pharos, 

Leaves waving in the dark, dogs straying off 

To a Hans Christian Andersen forest, excursions 

Without alarums. He could never tell all 

With his health too perfect, too moving 

In too sweet an air he shaped with his hands 

Always clear to ideas that were not his, that he 

Conveyed with such modesty, property 

Had no meaning, only the ideas pure and free 

Prom personal limit. They became ours, 

Artisans children, bright sons of the poor, 

Daughters of timid parents holding them 

In the lucid west, close to those raw homes 

Where the winds spilled down the Rockies and spring 

Avalanched down the Sierra. He lifted us 

Over those mountains, over Pacific islands, back 

To the living word, to a glory of sense breaking 

free on the page. 

And it was ours, that glory, what we might be, what he 
Could have been, if it were not for us. 


Where is it now, that tact so lost? We flaunt 

Our loves in public while he and his kept a brilliant 


Protecting all associates even to the fourth generation, 
Insuring beyond premium freedom, and the sweet gestures 

of the soul. 

He dreams as each grain flies before his eye of time s 


Nothing is lost, ever lost. Only the dream lives backward, 
Ambition becomes memory; memory, achievement; 


And Is It pride that makes him say 

None of It is his? A kind 

Of pride, yes, a kind of pride. 


His pride widens. The soul expands 

Beyond control. The heart hurts 

And breaks again. It Is a form 

Of release, the eager young 

Heart once more, that takes its toll 

And beats the body to a song. Tenderness 

In dawn and twilight, the hours meet and chime 

Until soft German words melt into copper 

Mountains and the sky, never so near, is near again. 

First loves and miracles of horses, amputations, 

Changing trains, changing trains, those hopeful 

Platforms where the future re-appears, and time 

Deftly adjusts its focus. Political slogans 

And words in Pullman berths, these are the functions 

Of the public soul, clean entitles shared by all of time, 

After the revolution. Each grain and each touch 

Flurry in the gusty twilight which is dawn. 


They are moths returning to a primal light. He sees 

But will not seize them. Loot 

Is the death of knowledge. 

The train goes backward 

Irresistibly. He is drawn 

Deep to the dawn, his eyes 

Full with watering time, 

The dew of summer and the winter s 

Frost, the beckoning winds 

On the river s shallow, willows 

Clipped, and the Ulm cathedral. 

He is careless of elegies now that it has come back, 

Reliably as time returns, so that the eye 

Glad and clear moves to a world of mountain, stream, 

and the dear 

Touch of love. Shame and disaster never last, 
And the elk feeds on plateaus 
Beyond our guess or Imagination, 
Innocence earned by the heart s freedom. 


Backward through time until time sounds depths 

tfhere it s Inaudible. The body rests 

In the console of Its purity, where song 

Beyond resistance floods the air and the sands 

Settle once more. The glass Is full. Nothing moves. 

The dial turns with the sun. The sun turns with the earth. 

The earth moves as never before, and a burst of gladness 

Confiscates the hour. Time Is the accent of eternity. 

(Signed, Dear Ben, I ve been doing 
my homework. 


March 21, 1966) 


May 23, 1956* 

Looking back, as we do at these gatherings, 

Into the golden ages of our history, 

Guided so vividly by sages of those years 

That we may recall the very color and climate of them, 

We may think of the giants that there were in those days, 
Striding through the golden gralnfields of Euclid Avenue, 
Lighting the bonfires of the classic myths 
In every heart, temples to deities. 

Now we are brought even to the present day 

To try to define the nature of our heroes 

In this time and in this place, 

Not fabulous, but putting in regular hours at staff meetings, 

And we are brought to trying to define 
In terms of our own skepticisms and dismays, 
Some of the essential nature of leadership 

As it works not merely in myth, but on Mondays, Wednesdays, 
and Fridays. 

First we may best turn in scholarly character to bibliography, 
To find the leading authority on the question, 
And study the volume called Carlyle s Theory of the Hero. 
By B.H. Lehman, Duke University Press, 1928. 

Carlyle himself beings: We have undertaken to discourse here 
On Great Men, their manner of appearance 
In our world s business, how they have shaped themselves 
In the world s history, what ideas were formed of them, what 
work they did. 

*Date of Faculty Retirement Dinner 

"You recall, I could not answer your queries of what it was 
the mode, the technique, the secret that made the work and 
the career what they were, and the results, too. I (suggest) 
the J. Miles poem... might say it, in some part or way. Her 
section ^ seems the nub." B.H.L. 


On Heroes namely, and on their reception and performance 
What I call Hero-worship and the Heroic In human affairs, 
A large topic, Indeed an Illimitable one 
Wide as Universal History Itself. 

For as I take It, Universal History, 

The history of what man has accomplished In this world, 

Is at bottom the history of the great men who have worked here, 

The soul of the whole world s history, the history of these. 

In this book we may learn also to discriminate kinds of heroes, 
To distinguish the Confucian wise man from the dull and stupid, 
The Messiah and seer from those who have eyes but see not, 
The Platonic philosopher from painters and poets, sophists and 

In all, the man of original sight beyond semblances 

The visionary prophet of the shows of existence: 

As If in Macbeth one should cry out to Duncan a deeper meaning 

In the lines "He that s coming/ Must be provided for." 

Or again, as Dr. Samuel Johnson would have him, 

And. without a word from Dr. Johnson, how could we define? 

A man of trance and vision, seized by spirits, 

"Sir, he who would be a hero must drink brandy." 

Exalted as are these views by Carlyle and his colleagues, 
They, like our memories, tend to elevate 
The hero out of the world of everyday 
Into the heights of power and prophecy. 

But I would have him here among us also, 
Not merely a vlsioner of truth beyond semblance 
But more, a listener to the truths of semblance, 
A harkener to what happens in clear fact. 

So this is my definition of our Hero: 

He is a Hearer, as well as Seer; he listens to other voices, 

He fathoms idioms other than his own, 

He waits for words different from the ones he speaks. 


He bides with patience In the dally wilderness of forest 
To learn the language of the birds, ungrammatlcal though 

It may be. 

And makes major marginal transformations 
Of material most would have thought only marginal to begin 


Hundreds of hearts are heard that without him would be silent, 
And thoughts confused are heard and clarified, 
Hundreds of meagre Intentions brought to magnitude 
In the magnanimity of the listening mind. 

Wordsworth is our poet who has said this for us, 
Adding one tone to Carlyle s mighty tone 
Treating of heroic wisdom in the book of the hero 
By Benjamin Harrison Lehman: 
"Wisdom doth live in freedom, and the truth 
Man holds with weekday man In the hourly walk 
Of the mind s business: these are the degrees 
By which true Sway doth mount; this Is the stalk 
True Power doth grow on; and her rights are these." 

(Signed, To Ben from Josephine) 



Ackerman, Phyllis, 69 

Actor s Workshop, 152 

Adams, Ansel, 46,52,65,73,151 

Adams, George, 84 

Adams, Henry, 49 

Addison, J.T., 19,27 

Ahwahnee Hotel, Yoseraite, 69 

Aiken, Conrad, 27,29,85 

Alexander, Elizabeth, 50,74,75,145,147 

Alexandre, 144,145 

Allen, James Turney, 190,205 

Alma Trio, 111 

Anderson, Judith, 70,131,169-174,176,178,182,307 

Anderson, Sherwood, 82 

Anglin, Margaret, 190 

Arden, Elsie, 75,141,142,145,163,167 

Armes, William Da 11am, 190 

Arnold, Thurmond, 59,60 

A.S.U.C. drama group, 183,187,196 

Ashton, Winifred (see Clemence Dane) 

Atherton, Gertrude, 109,135,210,305 

Bacon, Leonard, 106 

Baker, George Pierce, 188,189 

Barrows, David Prescott, 93,235,278,279 

Bates, Blanche, 42,62,64 

Bender, Albert, 48,52-57,65 

Benson, Stella, 53 

Berkeley (1920s, 1930s), 45ff-108 

Birge, Raymond, 240,248 

Black Sheep Restaurant, 72,128 

Blackburn, _ oy , 292,298,300 

Boelter, Llewellyn, 236 

Bogard, Travis, 186,197,296 

Boyd, Louise, 59 

Brashear, Minnie M, , 36 

Bremer, Anne, 55 

Brenner, Anne (see Anne Brenner Langs troth) 

Brett, Dorothy, 157 

Brewer, Edward V., 74,104,105 

Brier, Royce, 59,60 

Briggs, LeBaron Russell, 23 

Brodeur, Arthur G., 88,218 

Bronson, Bertrand, 85,202,231,235,249, 291,293,304 


Brown, Edmund "Pat", 280 
Bruce, Harold, 94,103,202, 
Bufano, Benjamin, 153 
Buhlig, Richard, 50 
Bundy, McGeorge, 236 

Caldwell, James, 269,270,280 

Calhoun, George, 84,206 

California Book Club, 53,54,65 

Cameron, Helen, 152 

Campbell, W.W., 70,93,193,235,240,278,279 

capital punishment, 147,160 

Capote, Truman, 74,163 

Carly le s Theory of the Hero. 22,29 

Carmel, California (see Robinson Jeffers, Noel Sullivan) 

Carpenter, Fred, 296 

Catholicism (see Noel Sullivan, esp. 119,139-144,158,162-165) 

Chaplin, Charlie, 111,125,126,130-132 

Chevalier, Haakon, 232 

Claire, Ina, 60 

Clausen, Roy, 236,237,242 

Cline, James, 85,202,235,249,250,293 

Cloyne Court, 97,98 

Coney, Donald, 214,215 

Copeland, Charles Townsend, 18-22,27 

Corley, James, 277,278,282,283,288 

Cornell, Katherine, 48,179 

Coward, Noel, 171 

Creel, George, 42,62 

Crocker, W.H., 279 

Daggett, Stuart, 236 

Damon, Bertha Pope, 47,48,57,64,65,69-71,73,81,83,109 

Dane, Clemence, 169,171-173 

David, Donald K. , 38,236 

Davis, Alva R. "Sailor", 277 

Davisson, Malcolm, 257,273,284,287,289 

deHavilland, Olivia, 113 

Denman, William, 58,60,152,153,306 

Denman, Leslie Van Ness, 58-61,65 

Dennes, William, 84,274,285 

Dennison, George, 110,113 

Deutsch, Monroe, 181-183,186,196,211,238,245 


Dewey, Thomas, 281 
deYoung, M.H. family, 152 
Douglas, Helen (lilllll[fili , 63,71,72,83,298 

Durham, W.H., 44,51,66,71,72,79,85,87,107,128,174,181,182,198,201 

Eastman, E.D., 236 

Eliot, Charles William, 274,275 

Eliot, Thomas Stearns, 16,19,20,22,29,103 

Elliott, P.M., 19,20 

Ellis, Elizabeth Warder, 48,49,53-66,71,72,77,79,81,83,84,96,100,101, 

Ellis, Ralph, 49,68 

Evans, Bertrand, 225,226,234,291,293 
Evans, Dame Edith, 169,175 
Evans, Maurice, 172 

Farley, Philip, 227-229, 234a, 236 

Famham, Willard, 88,202,227,234,235,249,250 

Fay, Charles, 136 

Fay, Maud, 113,125,136,137 

Fenway Palace, 30,31 

Field, Sara Bard, 57,109,112-116,130,159 

Flavin, Martin, 133,134,149,153,155,164 

Fontaine, Joan, 113 

Free Speech Movement (FSM, 1964,1965), 271,272,275 

French, Permeal, 37 

Friends of the Bancroft Library, 210 

Gardner, David P., 255,257 

Gardner, Mrs. Jack, 30,31 

Garrett, Alice Warder, 49,50 

Gayley, Charles Mills, 84,93,106,107,201,235 

Gerould, Gordon Hall, 92 

Gerould, Katherine Fullerton, 92,102,103 

Gielgud, John, 169,172-174,176,178 

Glass, Everett, 190,196 

Goethe Bi -Centennial, 74,75,104 

Gordon, the janitor, 78,79 

Greek Theatre, 190,191 

Greert^ Patterson, 38 

Gregory, Warren, 82 

Guggenheim Fellowships, 87,112 


Hammond, George, 217 

Hand, George, 79,221,298,307,308 

Haney, John Louis, 14 

Harris, Fred, 183,187,189,195,19; 

Harris, Mary, 184,185 

;i-ii-- To m o n 91A 917 

Harris, Mary, 184,185 

Hart, James D., 214,217 

Hart, Walter Morris, 44 

Hayes, Helen, 176,179 

Hayes, Roland, 73,137,147,148,155,160 

Hazard, Mrs. Lucy Lockwood, 85,227 

Hearst, Millicent, 124-127 

Hearst, Phoebe Apperson, 96,97 

Hearst. William Randoloh. 126.127.265 

Hearst, Phoebe Apperson, 96,97 
Hearst, William Randolph, 126,! 
Heller, Clara, 96 
Heller, Edward, 263 

Ho 1m \tar~Vi nlov IS 

Heller, Clara, 96 

Heller, Edward, 263 

Helm, MacKinley, 38 

Hemingway, Ernest, 82 

Hertz, Alfred, 160,161 

Hicks, John D. , 252,254 

Hildebrand, Joel, 86,214,255,259,261,276,277,284,287,288 

homosexuality, 147 , 150, 153, 154, 162-164 

Howard, John Galen, 98,99 

Howard, Sidney, 76,77 

Hoyt, George Barnum, 28,29 

Hughes, Langston, 112,148,149,156,160,292 

Hughes, Merritt, 203 

Hume, Edward Maslin, 36 

Hume, Sam, 190,191,193,194,196 

Hunt, Will, 28,29 

Kurd, Bartlett, 76,78 

"image of the work", 222-235,304,311-313 

Ingerson, Frank, 110,113 

Irish in San Francisco (see Noel Sullivan, esp. 152,153) 

Jeffers, Robinson, 111,116-123,134,148,149,153,155-157,164 

Jeffers, Una, 116-123,157 

Johnson, Hiram, 58,60,153,306 

Johnson, Lyndon, 280 

Jora lemon, Li la Kendall, 90 

Jordan, John, 295 

Jorgensen, Paul, 234 

Justema. William, appendix 

Jordan, John, ; 
Jorgensen, Paul, 234 
Justema, William, append! 


Keith, William, 46 

Kerr, Clark, 215,241,256,264,279,280 
Kittredge, George Lyman, 14,16,22,24 
Kurtz, Benjamin, 202,223,231,235,301 

Laemmle, Carl, 307 

Lane, Franklin, 99,100 

Langs troth, Anne Brenner, 109 

Langs troth, Lovell, 109 

Larson, Gertrude L. , 37 ^K< 

Lawrence, E.O.j 256,262,265 

Lehman, Abe, 2,3,7,8,10-15,197,198 

Lehman, B.H., childhood and ancestry, l-14a; schooling, Idaho, 11,12, 
Philadelphia, 12,13, Harvard, 13-35; teaching, Idaho and Washington, 
35-40,198, Harvard, 41,42; comes to University of California, 44,45; 
Berkeley, 1920s and 1930s, 45-108; Los Gatos and Carmel, 109-123; 
UCB administration (see University of California, committees); UC 
English and dramatic arts departments (see UC departments); writings, 
224,230,234,303-306; teaching methods, 229-234a; on life, 306-313 

Lehman, Gladys Collins, 38-41,46,123,124,307,308 

Lehman, Hal, 39,46,65,123,124,130,131,307,308 

Lehman, Hannah L dvinger, 1-10,13 

Lehman, Henriette, 257,285,309 

Lehmann, Lotte, 74,104,105,154,160,161 

Leigh, Vivien, 169,172,176 

Leonard, Ellie, 49 

Leupp, Harold, 211-213 

Lewis, Gilbert, 63,86,103,239,248,269 

Lewis, Oscar, 48,52,54,65 

Lewis, Sinclair, 82 

Lillie, Beatrice, 176 

Lincoln, Elliott, 39 

Linforth, Ivan, 190,191,205 

Lippmann, Walter, 16,19,20,27,29,30,85 

Locke, Alain, 148 

Loewenberg, Jacob, 84,87 

Longworth, Alice Roosevelt, 49,51 

The Lordly Ones, 8,78,79,80,303 

Los Alamos project, 274 

L dvinger, Hannah (see Hannah L dvinger Lehman) 

Lowell, Abbott Lawrence, 17,275 

Lowes, John Livingston, 91 

loyalty oath, 152,254-290 

Luhan, Mabel, 157 

Luhan, Tony, 122,157 

Lundberg, Olaf, 2^8 

Lyman, W.W., 109,113 


Madaleva, Sister Mary, 85,223,225,227,234 

Marie, Grand Duchess, 124,125,127-129 

McCarthy, Joseph, 271,280 

McClintic, Guthrie, 199 

McCully, Bruce, 39,199 

McDuffie, Duncan, 76-78 

McDuffie, Jean, 76-78 

McEnerney, Garret, 159 

Macgowan, Kenneth, 16,19,27,29,187,195 

Mann, Thomas, 75,104,105,183 

Marriott, Paul, 29 

Marshall, George, 228 

Mather, Stephen, 46,64 

Maybeck, Bernard, 97,98,110 

Meiklejohn, Alexander, 269,270,280 

Menuhin, Yehudi, 74,110 

Miles, Josephine, 83, 225, 226, 232, 234a, 249, 291, 293, appendix 

Miller, Adolph, 99-101 

Miller, Mary Sprague, 96,99-101 

Mitchell, Lucy Sprague, 96,102 

Moffitt, James, 89 

Montgomery, Guy, 94,202,203,211,218,291,292,297,299 

Montgomery, Grace, 291,292 

Morgan, Julia, 99,127,128 

Morris, Mary, 193 

Motherwell, Hiram, 19 

Moylan, Nora, 237,238,299,300 

Muir, John, 46 

Munro, Harriet, 114 

Munsterberg, Hugo, 26 

Murphy, Alyce, 139 

Muscatine, Charles, 293,296,301 

Muscatine, Doris, 301 

Navarro, Ramon, 64 

Negro in America, 137,147,148,153,154 

Neilson, William Allan, 14 

Neylan, John Francis, 256-267,277,281,286-288 

Noyes, George Rappell, 204,205 

Oakland Forum, 129 

O Brien, Mike, 284,289 

Olivier, Laurence, 169-173,175,176,178,179 

O Neill, Eugene, 82,188 

O Shea, Molly, 131 

Ouspenskaya, Maria, 184 


P.E.N. (poets, essayists, novelists), 109,149,183,305 

Pacific Union Club, 262 

Palmer, George Herbert, 15,16 

Parkinson, Thomas, 221,225,227 ,230-232, 298, appendix 

Parsons, Edward Taylor, 64,68,69 

Parsons, Marion Randall, 46,63-65,73,81,83,151,308 

Patterson, Alice, 39 

Pauley, Edwin, 281 

Pearce, Helen, 223,225,227 

Peixotto, Jessica, 95-98 

Pepper, Stephen C. , 69,181,182,189,192-194,198,268,277,290 

Perry, Bliss, 14,16,21,22 

Pettit, George, 288 

Phelan, James, 53,60,61,64,109,112,113,124,125,135,138,139,142,143,145, 

146, 149, 153, 154, 157 , 159,160 
Phelan, Margaret, 135,139 
Phi Beta Kappa (Harvard), 25,26 
Pichel, Irving, 190,191,193,198 
Pinchot, Rosamund, 219 
Pope, Arthur, 69 

Pope, Bertha (see Bertha Pope Damon) 
Popper, William, 160,203,206-208,210,214 
Potter, George, 270,304 

Rainy Night Club, 71,72 
Raleigh, John, 293,296 
Raphael, Joseph, 54,55 
Rebec, Estelle, 303 
Rethberg, Elisabeth, 74,146,149 
Rieber, Charles H. , 89,90 
Rivera, Diego, 56 
Robes on, Paul, 64 
Robinson, Harrison, 190,191 
Robinson, Ralph, 221 
Roosevelt, Theodore, 211,283 
Rorty, James, 120 
Roth, William, 60 
Rourke, Constance, 85 
Rowell, Joseph Cummings , 211 
Royce, Josiah, 17,18,22,84,90 
Rukeyser, Muriel, 85 

San Francisco, culture, 151,152; Jewish population, 95,96 
San Francisco Chronicle. 152 
San Simeon, 123-127,129,130 


Santayana, George, 15,16,20-22,27,49,120,144,156,230 

Saroyan, William, 112,221 

Schnitzler, Henry, 183,196 

Schofield, William Henry, 25 

Schorer, Mark, 83,84,86,250,293,296,301 

Schorer, Ruth, 84,301 

Shumaker, Wayne, 225,227 

Sidgwick, Ethel, 121 

Sierra Club, 46,64,68 

Smith, Henry Nash, 250 

Smith, Percy, 225,227 

Smyth, Albert Henry, 13,14 

Snedeker, Phil, 28,29 

Sprague, Lucy (see Lucy Sprague Mitchell) 

Sproul, Ida Wittschen, 281 

Sproul, Robert Gordon, 28,181,183,185,186,196,215,216,235,241-243,246, 

St. Denis, Ruth, 48,57 
Stebbins, Marion, 50 
Steilberg, Walter, 97,98 
Steinhoff, William, 225,227 
Steinman, David B. , 36 
Sterling, George, 110 
Stern, Rosalie, 56 
Stevenson, Lionel, 223,225,227 
Stewart, George, 88,268,272,274,293 
Stewart, Theodosia, 295 
Strauss, Lawrence, 50,73-76 
Strong, Edward, 272 
Sturgess, Sarah, 194-196 
Symington, Pete, 125,1237 

Sullivan, Ada (Mother Agnes), 140,141,148,151,166,167 
Sullivan, Alice Phelan, 139-142,144 
Sullivan, Francis, 139-141 
Sullivan, Gladys, 140 
Sullivan, Noel, 73,77,104,109,111,116,118,119,123,131,133-169, appendix 

Terry, Ellen, 174 

theater, U.S.A. , 177 

Thompson, Alan, 196,197 

Thoron, Ward, 49 

Tolman, Edward Chase, 257,269,287,290 

Truman, Harry, 281 


University of California, academic freedom (see loyalty oath, esp. 
pp. 269-276) 

University of California, Academic Senate, 238,240,242-244,246,252-267, 

University of California, Associated Students of (see A.S.U.C.) 

University of California, committees, academic: Budget, 185,197,199,200, 
236-247,249,299,300; Building Development, 187,247; Educational Policy, 
244,245,247,300; Library, 34,207-217; President s Advisory, 245,246, 
251-267,270,273,283,284,286-289; University Welfare, 244,245,300 

committees, administrative: Arts and Lectures, 
74; Music and Drama (see Arts and Lectures) 

University of California, departments: art, 181,187; dramatic arts, 152, 
176,177,179-197,241,242,299; English old curriculum, 191,192,201- 
203, comparative literature course, 204-206, English 41,218-221,267, 
268, and loyalty oath, 270, curriculum development, 293,294,297,298, 
Ph.Ds., 222-235, chairmanship, 291-302, retirement dinners, 106-108, 
social functions, 291,292,294; music, 188 

University of California, Faculty Club, 85,86,92,103,104,186,212,242 

University of California, Greek Theater, 190,191 

University of California, Library (see UC committees, library) 

University of California, loyalty oath controversy, 152,254-290 

University of California, project research, 274 

University of California, Regents, 243,246,254-267,276-278,283,284,286 

University of California, Summer Sessions, 81,90-95,102,103,206 

University of Idaho, 35-38,198 

Utter, Robert P., 202,218,235,249,297 

vanGhent, Dorothy, 113 

Van Ness, Leslie (see Leslie Van Ness Denman) 

Vaughn, Clifford, 57 

von Neumeyer, Charles D. , 72,192-194,196 

Walker, Donald G. , and Eleanor, 308 

Walker, Harry, 259,277 

Wallace, Bill, 60 

Walsh, Blanche, 197,198 

Warder family, 48-52 

Warren, Earl, 28,246,257,281 

Washington State College, 35-38,198,199 

Wasserman, Jacob, 85,103-105 

Wells, Mrs. Chauncey, 46 

Weleh, Marie, 48,109,110 

Wendell, Barrett, 33,35,45 

West, George, 109 

Whang, Francis, 112 

Wheeler, Benjamin Ide, 81,90,91,93,94,211,242,279 


Whipplc, Thomas King, 66,72,84,87,201,235,293 

Wild Marriage. 79,80 

Williams, Edward Thomas, 207 

Wilson, Michael, 173,221 

Wilson, Woodrow, 41,43,99,100 

Wood, Charles Erskine Scott, 57,110,112-116,135,159 

World War 1, War Issues Lectures, Harvard, 41,42 

Wright, Celeste Turner, 225,227 

Wurster, William, 101 

Young, Ella, 153,159 

Zuckerman, Fritzie, 128 
Zuloaga, 49,50 

Suzanne Bassett Riess 

Grew up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Graduated 
from Goucher College with a B.A. in English in 
1957. Post-graduate work at the University of 
London and the University of California, Berkeley, 
in English and art history. 

Feature writing and assistant woman s page editor, 
Bethlehem, Pa., Globe-Times. Free-lance writing 
and editing in Berkeley and volunteer work on 
starting a new Berkeley newspaper. 

Editor in Regional Oral History Office since 1960, 
interviewing in the fields of art, cultural history, 
environmental design, photography, and University 

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